Heat hold off Knicks for 3-1 NBA playoffs lead

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Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 10 assists, Bam Adebayo finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Miami moved to within a win from their third trip to the Eastern Conference finals in the last four years by beating New York 109-101.

Max Strus scored 16 points, Kyle Lowry added 15 and Caleb Martin had 10 for the Heat, the No.8 seeds, who lead their NBA semi-final series 3-1, with Game 5 -- and the first potential clincher -- awaiting in New York on Wednesday night.

Jalen Brunson finished with 32 points and 11 assists for the fifth-seeded Knicks, while RJ Barrett had 24 points and Julius Randle scored 20 before fouling out with about three minutes left.

Miami missed 12 of their first 15 shots of the fourth quarter on Monday, but the visitors didn't take full advantage -- trimming only three points off the Heat lead in that span.

But a slam dunk by Martin breathed some life into an antsy building, and the roars got a bit louder about a minute later. With the Knicks down seven, Randle went into the lane -- but Strus beat him to the spot, drawing contact that became the Knicks star's sixth foul with 3:08 left, and Miami held control the rest of the way.

The Knicks never led in Game 3, then barely held the lead twice in Game 4.

They had a pair of one-point leads in the opening quarter, for a combined 33 seconds, and with the Heat erasing the deficits with immediate baskets on their next possession.

But unlike Game 3, when Miami's lead was double digits for nearly the entirety of the final three quarters, this one remained in some doubt much of the way. The Heat didn't have their first 10-point lead until a three-pointer by Strus with 3:23 left in the half.

New York cut what was an 11-point deficit down to 67-65 on a triple by Barrett with 7:07 left in the third quarter, but never got all the way over the hump. An 8-1 spurt over a two-minute stretch late in the third restored the 11-point lead, and Miami's cushion was 90-81 going into the fourth.