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Heat continue roll with win over Knicks

NEW YORK (AP) -- With the way things are going, they won't be
called the last-place Miami Heat for much longer.

After spending nearly the entire season in the Atlantic Division
cellar, the Heat took another step Sunday toward shedding that
distasteful distinction.

Alonzo Mourning scored 21 points, Eddie Jones had 18, and Jim Jackson 15 as Miami beat New York 94-83, moving within a half-game
of the sixth-place Knicks.

"It's the worst," Jones said. "I don't think any player wants
to look in the newspaper and see that you're in the cellar. That's
embarrassing. People look at you like, 'Y'all are terrible.' You
don't want to deal with that."

The Heat went 2-14 over the first five weeks of the season, but
they have turned things around since early January with victories
in 10 of their last 12 games.

Miami (18-28) has one game remaining before the All-Star break,
against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. Their schedule over the
second half of the season is relatively easy, with no long road
trips to the West, seven of their final 10 games at home and no
road trips longer than one game after March 6.

Currently 12th in the conference, they have a legitimate chance
to qualify for the postseason. Pat Riley has never missed the
playoffs in his 19 seasons as an NBA coach.

"All of us were pretty much desperate trying to turn it around.
It's still not turned around -- 10 games under .500 -- but we're
making progress," Riley said. "We have to jump over teams.
There's about a half-dozen teams that are fighting for the last two
spots, so we have to win these kinds of games to get back in the
race."

The Heat scored eight unanswered points late in the third
quarter as part of a 23-10 run that gave them the lead for good,
and the Knicks got little from anyone other than Allan Houston in
the fourth quarter as they lost their second in a row.

Houston scored 28, and Kurt Thomas had 21 points and 11 rebounds
for the Knicks, who will be without Marcus Camby for at least three
weeks. Camby bruised his right hip Friday at Indiana.

Clarence Weatherspoon replaced Camby in the starting lineup,
with Thomas moving from power forward to center. Weatherspoon
grabbed 16 rebounds but shot just 2-for-11.

"We took advantage of him not being their inside presence,"
Mourning said. "When somebody's out, you try to strategize the
best you can to take advantage."

Rod Strickland scored 14, and Jackson helped give Miami a 30-8
edge in bench scoring.

Reserve Eddie House scored seven, including five in a row midway
through the fourth quarter to give Miami its first double-digit
lead, 80-70.

New York pulled within four as Houston scored six straight
points, but Strickland answered with a jumper to end the run. After
Houston hit another jumper, Miami scored six points from the foul
line in an 8-2 run that clinched the victory.

"We have a lot of veterans and we have a lot of pride," Jones
said. "To start out like that (2-14), being the worst team in the
league -- I just think pride came into effect."

Game notes
The loss was the 400th of Don Chaney's coaching career. He
is 8-18 with the Knicks this season. ... Jones had to leave the
court twice, once to vomit after getting hit in the groin, another
time after being poked in the eye. Strickland vomited into a towel
during a fourth-quarter timeout after he ran into Othella Harrington. ... The Knicks dropped to 25-6 in regular-season
meetings with the Heat at Madison Square Garden. ... Miami had only
six turnovers. ... New York's Latrell Sprewell was hampered by a
sore ankle. He scored 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

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