[caption id="attachment_3681" align="alignnone" width="442" caption=" LeBron on the wrong side of a poster, Eddie House in awe"][/caption] First Quarter The game began as what is now known in Lithuania as The Matrix Quarter with Ilgauskas encompassing everything, everywhere, all at once. He exploded for 12 points, swallowed 8 rebounds (most by any Heat in a quarter this season), sealed the paint and got 1 block, all in the first 9 minutes of play. The checklist dream sequence: tip-in-oop from LeBron, draw the foul for free-throws, hustle and dive to save a possession, offensive rebound and putback, dunk off a behind-the-back pass from Wade, putback, and tip-in. It sounds like a lot for the big fella, because it was. The Lithuanian Matrix augmented his performance with solid defense on Stoudamire, tagging Joel Anthony to handle him in his absence and together holding him to a mortal 4 points and 1 rebound in a contrasting first quarter. The girth of Dampier was not necessary against the Lilliputian Knicks. Aside from the big man's ownership of the quarter, Miami had defensive adrenaline running through their veins -- sealing off any path to the basket, swiftly running and rotating out to shooters. As the Knicks were more than glad to appease with an array of clunkers, the Heat’s defensive stops created easy buckets to run away with a 34-18 Heat lead. Note: Season highs in the 1st quarter: 34 Points, +11 Rebounding Margin, 22 points in the paint. Second Quarter In customary fashion, Miami was dull to start the 2nd quarter, allowing 9 straight points as the Knicks attempted to dig at the mountainous lead. After some compulsory heat checks, the defensive flow settled in as the teams exchanged baskets and Wade continued a stellar display of movement en route to 17 points for the half. A late 9-0 Knicks run prompted coach Spoelstra for a 20 second timeout and a LeBron isolation play right off the Mike Brown playbook stopped the drought. Nonetheless, a Knicks 13-4 run to ended the half with the Heat leading 53-40. Note: Knicks were held to 36% shooting in the first half. Living up to the Knicks maligned reputation, they allowed 56 first half points from Miami, a Heat season high. Third Quarter Regardless of their allergies to defense, the Knicks would improve their defensive stance and slowly chip away at the lead, cutting it to 8 with a half court Felton-Chandler alley-oop. A run from the Knicks got them as close as 6 but a 12-4 run led by a steaming Wade would comfortably settle them at an 80-65 advantage. Eerily similar to their first matchup when they went into the fourth up by 16. Fourth Quarter The twelve minutes of final melodrama was an agonizing anomaly. As if the Heat had opted for an Eternal Sunshine deletion of minds, Miami strayed away from the successful game plan and opted for the ugly ball that sporadically plagues them. Isolation plays abounded, long two pointers were taken at will and the defense lost its connecting joints. Call it overconfidence, call it boredom, or call it hustle from the opposing team. As long as we no longer call it The Game That Got Away. With the Knicks cutting it to three, the necessary dagger would come in the form of a signature Wade pull-up three pointer, putting the Heat ahead by 6 with under 2 minutes to go. Miami would need one last stop to finish the job but a controversial foul call would extend the suspense. Carl Landry fake pumped from the corner, Wade elevated in an attempt to block the shot and landed with his arm cleanly on the ball. As is customary, Landry Fields threw up his arms and the referee whistled for three free throws. The basketball gods would allow karma to settle the debate as Landry missed 2 of the 3 free throws and the Heat held on for the win after a futile fouling spree from the Knicks. Notes:
- The Heat have now won 15 of their last 16 games and have held all 16 opponents under 100 points.
- LeBron’s post game has been absent if not completely disregarded as of late. Two opportunities arose with Felton ending up on a mismatch with James. The first resulted in a travel call and the second in a steal from behind by Ronny Turiaf. Still much to work on, but at this rate it seems it's not necessary for nightly conquests.
- Miami outrebounded New York 50-32. The Heat are now 18-2 when outrebounding their opponent.
- What rivalry? The Heat have defeated the Knicks 7 consecutive times. Desiring a playoff matchup against New York is not an entirely insane concept.
- After being questioned on the tactics of not often choosing the best free throw shooter to shoot technical free throws during the game, Erik Spoelstra answered with the notion of allowing a player who is in rhythm, or is need of rhythm, to take the shot. At the end of the day, he simply expects the chosen one to step up and make the shot regardless of percentage.