Pat Riley emerged from the locker room chewing his fingernails, his shirt soaked with sweat. It was that kind of game.
"Just an incredible game for us," said Riley, whose Heat had been struggling in recent weeks. "I haven't had this feeling about this team in a while. When we play that committed on defense, we can really be good."
The Heat, who have led the division for nearly the entire season, pulled 1@1/2 games ahead of New York.
"They outplayed us," said Knicks center Patrick Ewing, who failed to take advantage of Mourning's absence and had just eight points in 39 minutes. "We won the first quarter; they won the rest of the game."
Mourning wasn't in uniform because of a sore left ankle he injured Saturday at Washington, and he said he won't make the trip for Tuesday's game at San Antonio. Heat guard Voshon Lenard also missed the game with a lower abdominal strain.
Mourning watched from the bench, standing through much of the second half.
"It was definitely nerve-wracking," he said. "But I'm happy right now."
Mashburn scored 24 points for Miami, and Weatherspoon had 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Larry Johnson scored 20 points for the Knicks, who made their first four 3-point attempts and raced to a 29-12 lead after just seven minutes.
"It was an onslaught in the beginning, and we could have lost all kinds of heart," Riley said.
"You can't let them break your will," Weatherspoon said.
When New York cooled off, Weatherspoon sank four consecutive baskets for Miami to help cut the margin to 43-37 at halftime. The Knicks had six points in the final 10:41 of the half.
The Heat scored the final seven points of the third period, taking their first lead at 61-60 on Mashburn's one-handed 10-footer in the final second. Dan Majerle's 3-pointer put the Heat ahead to stay, 66-63, and the Knicks made just one basket in the next eight minutes.
"We played great in the first quarter, and they were great defensively after that," New York coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I give them a lot of credit. We've really been struggling offensively since the All-Star break. You're not going to win on the road when you score only 76 points."
The game was reminiscent of the most recent meeting between the archrivals, except the roles were reversed. Miami blew an early 15-point lead and lost at New York on Feb. 6.
The Heat extended their home winning streak to nine games. The victory marked the start of a tough five-game stretch against likely playoff teams, including San Antonio on Tuesday.
"We feel good about tonight," Riley said, "but we've got the world champions on the road tomorrow."
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