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Knicks get the better of Heat as LeBron misses down the stretch

Feb 28, 2011, 4:44 AM EDT

New York Knicks v Miami Heat Getty Images

Talk about a turnaround. From losing to the Cavaliers to beating the Heat, welcome to the Carmelo Anthony era.

The Knicks did what you’d expect them to do for 3/4 of this game. They didn’t play defense, they took a lot of jumpshots, and they looked a step behind the Heat. Then all of a sudden, it came together all at once, and it was like some weird beam of contention sunlight came beaming in through the clouds. And it started with Chauncey Billups. For all the talk of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, Billups has been treated as a second-class asset, a throw-in, inconsequential and expired in terms of usefulness. But against Miami, he hit key shot after key shot, communicated on both ends of the floor, and set the tone. He was what sparked the Knicks.

Carmelo and Amar’e did the rest. Stoudemire struggled mightily in the first half against Chris Bosh, fought to a stand-still in the third, then took over in the fourth. It was his block — not his scoring, his block — on LeBron James that sealed it. It was Anthony forcing James into a maladjusted shot that enabled the block, not Melo’s stroke. Though both had it going on the offensive end as well. Stoudemire and Anthony combined to shoot 18-36 from the field, and they’ll take that any day of the week. The Big 2 are going to get their points, it just depends on whether they’re going to get them efficiently or not.

Meanwhile, the Heat?

We’ll keep asking until we’re blue in the face or they’re blown out of the playoffs. What’s it going to take for this team to play with intensity and focus? For as good as they would look early in both halves, they finished terribly, unable to get on the same page, unable to get the Big 3 involved, and unable to get the win against a playoff team. That’s losses to Boston, Chicago, and New York in the month of February.  And March? March brings a murderer’s row with Orlando, San Antonio, the Lakers, Chicago, Portland, Atlanta and the Thunder all in the same month. The Heat are running out of chances for statement games, and instead seem to wilt in the biggest moments. They have their win over the Lakers on Christmas. That was nice. And they have two wins over the Magic. But other than that, the Heat have struggled with statement games.

For as far back as the Knicks are in the playoff race, the Heat allowed them to make one tonight, by simply focusing and executing.  The Heat have proven time and time again this year that if you press, they’ll simply fall apart. If you withstand the firepower, you can overcome them on the ground.  The Knicks took the best of what the Heat could give. Then they returned the favor. The result?

The whole world has seen how far behind the Celtics the Heat are. After tonight they’ll be wondering how far behind the Heat the Knicks are.


  • The biggest question when Melo was acquired was how he would fit into Mike D’s system, because that would determine how he fits in with Stoudemire. Instead, Anthony is integrating himself with Amar’e, working off of him in double-post sets at the elbow and block, and using it to free himself . D’Antoni has shown no impulse in trying to make Anthony into a part of his system, but instead is willing to let him use his unique talents to integrate those into the flow of the offense.
  • Moderate pace (95) tonight, which is higher but not super-high, especially for what these two teams are capable of.
  • How bad was the offense tonight for both teams, in terms of shooting? The Heat shot the best from the field at 43%. They lost.
  • The Knicks do not have a legitimate center. So Joel Anthony going -17 is pretty horrific.
  • Mario Chalmers had zero assists and 2 turnovers. Starting point guard, that.
  • Stoudemire and Anthony combined for 19 boards. It’s been a question for a long time, but those two are holding up their end of the bargain on the glass.
  1. larsonjs - Feb 28, 2011 at 5:02 AM

    The Heat are poorly coached, or, perhaps they have players who just won’t listen to coaching. They do the same thing at the end of every loss. James starts playing one on one and whatever is true about James, HE IS NOT A CLUTCH PLAYER. They should have James get his points in the first half and then let Wade close the games. It seems like they do the opposite. The brick James threw up at the end of the game was pathetic. It wan’t even close and Carmelo was not close enough to make a difference. I have to admit, it’s fun to watch. I love train wrecks.

    • musilly - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:24 PM

      I’m no Lebron-lover but he’s had a lot of late-game success alongside the failures.

  2. zackd2 - Feb 28, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    Odds jstrizzle will post “Armelo Can’thony” on this thread? 0%

  3. hnirobert3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    “Anthony is integrating himself with Melo”


  4. hnirobert3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    Another disappointing loss for the Heat. At some point these won’t be “disappointing” losses for the Heat as the expectation will turn to expecting them to lose this way. I agree that personnel is an issue, but Spoelstra needs to hold these players accountable. I understand that there are a hand few of coaches in the league who could get away with holding these guys accountable for playing stupid, hero basketball (looking at you LBJ), but something needs to happen, even if it’s Riley becoming more of a presence.

  5. henryd3rd - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    It really doesn’t matter what happens during the regular season; because it is a whole new ball game during the playoffs. Having said that the Heat should be further along then they are at this point. They seem to be still looking for their identity as a team. Neither of these teams wants to play the Celtics or the Bulls in a seven game series.

    • starks3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      I disagree, Knicks 2-0 vs. Bulls this year and 2-2 vs. Heat.

      The Celtics are the only team the Knicks don’t want to face, however with little to no centers in B-town now, it might not be as bad of a match up.

      • passerby23 - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        I agree, even without Perkins, Boston’s rugged frontline is a nightmare for New York. Although they are 2-0 against the Bulls, they shot the lights out from 3 in both games and that was pre-trade. I do think the Heat are tailer-made for the Knicks to at least be competitive with the lack of Heat big men to bother the Knicks in the paint.

      • leearmon - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        I honestly believe the Knicks match up far better vs the Bulls than most people realize. Yes they’re 2-0 vs the Bulls pre trade, but if Luol Deng had troubles vs Gallinari how do you think he will fair vs Melo? Plus that three point shooting you speak of had a lot to do with Toney Douglas, and since the trade his playing time has increased. Not to mention Derrick Rose will not be able to post up on Billups as easily as he did Felton the two previous contest. The NBA postseason is about match-ups and New York has several advantages when it comes to Chicago.

      • starks3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 7:41 PM

        The problem Chicago has that alot of people are ignoring is that they don’t have alot of scoring options. Say what you will about Defense/Depth which Chicago has both, they only have Deng to compliment Rose. Deng to me will not be enough for them scoring wise in the playoffs regardless of who they play.

        Look at the east elite, Orlando, Miami, Boston, and NY all have the ablility of scoring firepower, the Bulls can’t hang imo with any of those teams when it comes to points.

  6. savocabol1 - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    Lebron can’t make basket when it counts? That’s new.

  7. dysraw1 - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    lose to the cav,but we beat the heat cool ill take it

  8. ohkhan - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    how did the knicks not play defense 3/4 of the game? 2nd quarter miami scores 17, 3rd they score 15, and 4th they score 20. Their only poor defensive quarter was the first

    • musilly - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:25 PM

      It was blogger’s poetic license.

  9. leearmon - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    This was a very good win. Its still too early to read anything from it, however New York has now split with the Heat, Spurs and Thunder while winning the season series vs Chicago. Also im pleasantly surprised that Mike D’Antoni went with a defensive lineup for as long as he did. Balkman, Bill Walker and especially Anthony Carter did a fantastic job. Carter shutdown Wade the entire game. It’s just one game, but considering they have only practiced a hand full of times at the most, its a promising beginning.

  10. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Knicks looked much better on Offense last night, but they do need to make Melo the first option and run specific plays for him down the stretch. Iso him on the block and let him do his thing, love Amare’ but Melo is superior offensive player and can score at will or get to the line.

  11. knickfaninmiami - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    “The Knicks did what you’d expect them to do for 3/4 of this game. They didn’t play defense…”

    How can you say the Knicks did not play D for 3/4 of the game when the Heat scored 17, 15, and 20 in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters repectively? There d was actually pretty good in the first too, the Heat were just hot. At least check the box score before you write up a game.

  12. cpmustang - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Glad to see you took some of my edits, Matt, but it’s kind of wrong to go and delete my post afterwards.

    • savocabol1 - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Don’t worry, I have had many a posts deleted. I guess they don’t like when you call them out.

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