Those speculators who loaded up on Miami Heat first-round NBA playoff tickets in hopes of a series against the New York Knicks?

About as shrewd as the Knicks taking an all-or-nothing 3-point approach in what turned into a 102-91 loss to the Heat on Sunday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Yes, Knicks guard J.R. Smith loaded up on three times the fun, closing 10 of 22 from beyond the arc on the way to 32 points, but with the Heat limiting Carmelo Anthony to 4-of-17 shooting, LeBron James scoring 38 and Udonis Haslem stepping up with 11 rebounds, the Heat remained atop the Eastern Conference, with a No. 1-vs.-No. 8 playoff series for the moment more likely to feature the Atlanta Hawks as the No. 8 seed than the Knicks.

"I liked the intensity of today's game," coach Erik Spoelstra said, "and the Knicks always bring that out of you.

"We had some Miami Heat huddles, verbally spitting at each other."

"We love those conversations," James said. "It just locks us back in."

The moments also might have knocked out the Knicks.

"Any time you're playing somebody you might play in the first round," center Chris Bosh said, "you want to send a message."

Plenty of work, though, remains for the Heat in their bid to stay ahead of the Indiana Pacers, with their next three games on Tuesday at home against the Brooklyn Nets to close out this five-game homestand, then on the second night of that back-to-back on Wednesday on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, then back home Friday night against the Pacers.

"All we have to know about Brooklyn is we haven't beaten them this year, including the preseason," Spoelstra said, with the Nets leading the regular-season series 3-0.