May 3, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots as Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) defends during the second half of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Miami won 87-70. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
In the first close game of this Heat vs. Knicks first-round series, Mike Bibby and Carmelo Anthony made crucial 3-pointers late. Anthony and Stoudemire missed free throws, though, leaving the door open for Miami. Down 87-89 with 14 seconds left, Dwyane Wade lost his handle on the ball momentarily before throwing up a 3-point prayer that clanked off the front rim. The Knicks forced Game 5, sending the series back to Miami.
LeBron James nailed a 3 to tie the game at 84 with 1:14 left to go. But Anthony answered with a deep 3 to put the Knicks back up. On Miami's ensuing possession, Chris Bosh committed a costly turnover. Anthony pulled up for a 3-pointer on Shane Battier and drew a foul, but replays clearly showed that Battier barely grazed Anthony's elbow. Anthony made just one of the three free throws, and James made a sensational three-point play to cut the lead to one with 20 seconds left. Stoudemire split the pair at the foul line before Wade's missed potential game-winner.
A lot of people will question why Erik Spoelstra kept Shane Battier on Anthony the whole way through. I even said it. But Battier defended Anthony well on those late jump shots. Nonetheless, James is the best perimeter defender in the league and should have guarded him down the stretch.
Anthony played a great game, scoring 41 points on 15-of-29 shooting from the field and grabbing six rebounds. He didn't play particularly well in the first half, but helped spur a 19-2 Knicks run in the third quarter. Miami went up by 11 early in the third quarter, but New York responded with their season on the line.
The Heat's Big Three received little help; they scored 66 of the Heat's 87 points. Wade played well in the fourth quarter, but shot just 4-of-11 on free-throw attempts. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP finished with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, six assists, four steals and three blocks (including one nice rejection of Anthony at the rim). Bosh shot 9-of-10 from the foul line and registered 17 points and nine rebounds on the night while James had 27 points.
But the others? Mario Chalmers shot just 2-of-10 from the field. Udonis Haslem fouled out in 14 minutes of action. Mike Miller shot 1-for-5 from downtown, and neither team hit a 3-pointer until the third quarter.
This loss represents a missed opportunity for the Heat. The Indiana Pacers will try to close out the Orlando Magic Tuesday night on their home floor, and the Knicks didn't play particularly well. Aside from Anthony's game and Amar'e Stoudemire's 20-point, 10-rebound effort, New York played poorly. Players not named "Anthony" or "Stoudemire" for the Knicks shot a combined 9-of-33 from the field. The Heat had a chance to win Game 4 late but lost, much like in Game 4 of the Heat's first-round series against Philadelphia last year.