NEW YORK: New York's Carmelo Anthony and Miami stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sparked their teams to NBA playoff triumphs on Tuesday that gave the Knicks and Heat 2-0 Eastern Conference series leads.
Anthony, who shot 3-for-11 in the first half, scored a game-high 34 points to power the host Knicks over Boston 87-71, giving New York a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening round playoff series.
"It was just a tale of two halves," Anthony said. "We just had to find a rhythm, find some shots. In the third quarter we came out very aggressively. We got some stops, and that opened up our offense."
And at Miami, Wade scored 21 points while James had 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists to spark the defending NBA champion Heat over Milwaukee 98-86 for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round matchup.
The Bucks stayed within reach until a 12-0 Miami run sparked by reserves to open the fourth quarter brought the Heat an 80-65 lead and ended Milwaukee's hopes of an upset of the top overall playoff seeds.
“We put ourselves in position to close the game out,” James said. “It’s not surprising. That's what our bench brings.”
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds for Milwaukee, which will host game three on Thursday.
“We can expect an absolute crazy energy from their team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We did what we were supposed to do. Now we need to move on.”
At New York, the Celtics led 48-42 at half-time but the Knicks shot 70.6 percent from the field in the third period and outscored Boston 32-11, holding the visitors to 22.2 percent shooting for the quarter to turn around the game.
“It’s our defense that holds us in there and makes us able to do the things we need to do to win games,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
“We got relaxed. They had us on our heels and attacking. We turned that around in the second half, finally hit a good offensive spurt in the third quarter, and that gave us the cushion we needed.”
The Knicks visit Boston for games on Friday and Sunday with a chance to sweep into the second round or find themselves in a level fight.
“We did what we were supposed to do with the home-court advantage,” Woodson said. “We’ve got to now travel to Boston. You've got to go in there and be solid.”
J.R. Smith, named the NBA's top reserve, added 19 points and Raymond Felton added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Knicks, who Woodson stressed are not a one-man show.
“I have a lot of confidence in Melo and everybody on that team,” he said. “Melo has it going right now, but some nights he might struggle and other guys have to step in there.”
Paul Pierce finished with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 11 rebounds despite foul trouble. But they never recovered from the third quarter.
“They just attacked us, and we didn't handle it well. We have to do better,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “In the second half they turned it on us and threw a knockout punch, several of them.”
Warriors down Nuggets to tie series at 1-1
In Denver, Colorado, Stephen Curry scored 30 points and added 13 assists on Tuesday to power the hot-shooting Golden State Warriors over the Denver Nuggets 131-117 to even their NBA opening-round playoff series.
Jarrett Jack netted 26 points, Harrison Barnes added 24 points and Klay Thompson contributed 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for the Warriors, now level at 1-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference matchup.
“Just an outstanding performance by that entire group,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
The Warriors connected on 51-of-79 shots from the field, 64.6 percent, to set a club single-game playoff record for shooting accuracy, shattering the old mark of 57.9 percent set against Phoenix in 1994.
Not since 1991 had an NBA team shot so well in a playoff game.
And Golden State's sharpshooting performance came in the first game without David Lee, the standout forward who suffered a season-ending torn right hip flexor in game one, where the Nuggets edged the Warriors 97-95 last Saturday.
“We needed this win,” Curry said. “For everybody to get involved, without D-Lee, that’s what we're going to have to do, have everybody get touches. We're resilient. We’ve been that way all season.
Golden State will host games three and four on Friday and Sunday at Oakland, California, before the series returns to Denver for game five next Tuesday.
“Now we have to go protect our home court,” Curry said.
Australian big man Andrew Bogut added six points and a game-high eight rebounds plus two steals, an assist and a blocked shot for the Warriors.