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Heat’s first-half defense takes night off again in loss to Knicks, 115-86

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No Porzingis, no problem for Knicks as they manhandle the Heat in New York.

NBA: Miami Heat at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The game began on a promising note for the Miami Heat as the New York Knicks lost Kristaps Porzingis for the evening at the 2:30 mark, with the Knicks leading 7-5. Miami never adjusted as Enes Kanter took over the paint without Hassan Whiteside on the other side.

Miami seemed totally disorganized throughout the game, because so many offensive sets on offense run through Whiteside, with his picks and dunks. Several times the lob passes never quite connected with Bam Adebayo, because his size and touch are so different from Whiteside’s.

On defense Hassan was not there to pick up Knicks as they got open looks in the paint, or Kanter out-muscled every one on the Heat for a rebound. Heat defenders trailed their man expecting Whiteside to meet him at the rim, but he wasn’t there.

Kanter went 7 for 9 from the field, 8 out of 9 from the free throw line and disrupted the Heat defense trying to stop him. For Miami Kelly Olynyk was their leading scorer with 18 points, mostly when the game was out of reach in last quarter.

The top rebounders for Heat got only 5 each, with Knicks getting 52 boards to the Heat’s 31. For the game the Heat shot 38% from field, 26% from downtown, and 60% from the charity stripe. The flow of the game never reached Miami.

The teams went into the locker room with Knicks leading 65-44. The last play painfully tells all about the Heat’s intensity on defense as they casually stroll down the court, with no effort to challenge the pass or the shot.

The Knicks increased their lead to 88-64 to start the fourth quarter, and never gave the Heat any mercy during the second half. The less said about this drubbing, the better as Miami comes home to lick its wounds.

The wins over the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls seem like a distant memory after the last two blowouts. The Heat won two early in season with Jordan Mickey at center, but since then have carefully crafted their game plans around 7-11, Whiteside and second unit’s 3-point attack. The last two games showed how fragile those plans were.