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Knicks rely on new three and defense to emerge victorious over Heat 91-86

That’s gonna leave a mark. It was supposed to be an entertaining match filled with a pace for triple-digit points on the scoreboard, ravenous drives to the basket, acceleration in the wings and an open sea for the Heat to indulge in. And it was, for the first 20 minutes. After a 64% shooting (34 pts) first quarter and a continuous confidence heading into the second quarter, the Heat found themselves struck by a classic D’Antoni run aided by sloppy play from the Heat. Down by 15, the Knicks put together a dazzling 16-0 show in the last 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter to finish ahead by 1 heading into halftime. The Knicks must have read the Guide to Beating the Heat during the halftime break, because common sense kicked in and in came a surprising national television endeavor. New York began defending (gasp), in transition and half court, collapsing on intruders and preventing the break. Miami’s fire had long run out of steam and missing open shots combined with a turnover festival (18 total TOs) put the game in the dreaded proximity which they have constantly failed to overcome. With less than 2:00 minutes to go and the Heat up 84-80, Billups decided to take our Pre-Heat comments seriously and un-retire his Mr. Big Shot persona. He made an off-balance floater, in which he was fouled but didn’t get the call, to cut the lead to two. The Heat followed with some atrocious half-court offense and a wide open miss by Wade about 6 feet away from the basket. Now that Mr. Big Shot was alive, he followed the ensuing possession by primarily attempting to feed Carmelo in the post, only to hesitate and take a shot from 4-point land to put the Knicks up by 1. Just to make sure everyone understood him, he next stole a weak pass from Bosh, ran out on the break and fed it to a trailing Shawn Williams who was fouled and made his two free throws. Knicks up by 3, 87-84. The ending? All too familiar. James is fouled on an aggressive drive, cuts the lead to one, the Heat cause a turnover and the game falls upon James to take the lead in the last 12 seconds. He again drives but encounters Stoudamire who blocks his drive from the weak side. Shawne Williams grabs the rebound, gets instantly fouled and makes his free-throws to again put the Knicks up by 3 with 6.7 seconds to go. Needing a 3 to tie it, Spoelstra draws up an eerily similar play for LeBron to take a three at the top of the key as in the Bull's loss, which he does in déjà vu fashion, missing but at least hitting rim this time. (Play comparison coming up on next post). Just like that the Knicks win the gritty battle, come out with all the confidence in the world in their new path to greatness, and show effort goes a long way in their basic defensive scheme. Miami on the other hand, reverts to old habits of complacency, streaky shooting and the inability to close out games in the clutch. Some things never change. Game Notes:
  • Miami’s Big Three combined for 34 points at the half, countered by 33 points from the Knicks’ new three. Yes, Billups is the third musketeer. At the end, Miami’s trio finished with 59 points to the Knicks Trio with 61 points. Food for thought.
  • With that being said, it seems the Heat can’t afford a doozey from any of the big three if they want to succeed against .500 teams. This time it was Wade’s turn to throw in a stinker, going 0-3 from beyond-the-arc, 5-15 from the field and collecting 3 offensive fouls and 5 turnovers. He distributed the ball well, tallying 9 assists that should have been 15 if the open shooters had knocked down their corresponding shots.
  • It was not a good night to drop bombs as the Heat shot 27% from three on some questionable rushed shots, product of biting on the Knicks’ pace setting. James went 1-5, Wade 0-3, and House and Jones combined for 0-5. Only Miller and Chalmers were decent jointly dropping 5 of their 9 rainbows.
  • Billups is considered an underrated part of the Melo trade, but veteran Anthony Carter was completely regarded as a throw-in. Credit Carter for playing smart defense and most notably coaxing Wade into his 3rd offensive foul (4 total) in the middle of the third quarter, giving Spoelstra no choice but to sit him for the rest of the quarter.
  • Chris Bosh had a quiet but productive night dropping 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in his return to consistency.
  • Miami might be considered the capital of South America but New York is the mecca of basketball, shown by the large crowd of Knicks fans at the American Airlines Arena chanting DE-FENSE when the Heat held the ball and booing as LeBron stepped up to the free-throw line. Spike Lee, avid celebrity fanatic, also made the trip to South Beach to glisten in delight as the Knicks came out victorious.
  • With the victory, the New York Knicks have tied the series 2-2 leaving any further resolve unanswered unless the teams meet again in the playoffs.
  • Tonight’s loss snapped the Heat’s 7-game winning streak at home.
  • The fragility in the Heat’s flaws versus .500 teams will be further evaluated for the next few weeks with upcoming games against the Magic, Spurs, Bulls, Blazers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Spurs, Thunder and Hawks, in that order. Most games will be at home and provide great opportunity to improve on their 14-15 record versus teams above .500.