LeBron James Leads Miami Heat to 3-0 Series Lead over New York Knicks

Carl BermanContributor IIIMay 3, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat attempts a shot in the first quarter against Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The New York Knicks didn't have much of a chance. If they had any chance at all, it was ruined by Jeremy Lin's knee injury and Amare Stoudemire's silly hand injury after Game 2.

Miami's defense smothered the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night as the Heat ran away from the Knicks 87-70 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. LeBron James scored 32 points, Dwyane Wade had 20 and Mario Chalmers added 19 in the Heat's impressive win.

Miami's defense smothered New York all game long. The Knicks shot only 31.9 percent for the game including 20 percent (4-for-20) on three-pointers. It was their worst shooting performance in playoff history as the Knicks lost their 13th consecutive playoff game.

Carmelo Anthony was hounded throughout the game. Anthony needed 23 shots (he was 7-for-23) to score 22 points. Three-point expert Steve Novak could not get free for a shot the entire game. Miami was on him like glue on the perimeter.

Novak got a rare start with the departure of Stoudemire, played 22 minutes and did not score taking only two shots. Baron Davis didn't contribute much on offense with seven points and three assists, and designated shooter J.D. Smith shot a poor 5-for-18 (12 points).

Miami looks like to team primed for the championship. LeBron James has his share of haters, but it looks like he is committed to do whatever he can to bring a title to South Florida. Coming off what should be an MVP season, James was exceptional on both ends of the court in Game 3.

Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers both got hot in the second half as the Heat pulled away from a 40-36 halftime deficit. Miami outscored the Knicks 51-30 in the second half.  Wade scored 12 points in the third quarter, including nine straight Miami points to bring the Heat from a 43-42 deficit to a 51-46 lead. All of that happened while James was on the bench with four fouls.

Chalmers and James picked it up in the fourth quarter. James scored the first 11 Miami points to extend the lead to 69-60, then Chalmers made consecutive three-pointers to put the game out of reach at 77-62 at the 5:39 mark. Chalmers made 5-of-8 three-pointers on the game.

Everything seems to be breaking right for the Heat. The injury to Derrick Rose effectively eliminates Chicago as a serious challenger, and Ray Allen's injury makes the Celtics' task tougher. At this point no one knows how Josh Smith's knee sprain will hurt his effectiveness for the Hawks.

There doesn't appear to be much of a serious challenge to stop Miami from getting to the NBA finals, especially with the way they are playing defense.