We’re continuing our look back at some classic Miami Heat games. For our last rewind — when LeBron James scored 45 points in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals — click here.
Our 11th entry also comes from the 2011-12 season. Just before the All-Star break, on Feb. 23, the Miami Heat hosted the New York Knicks. Earlier that month, injuries forced Mike D’Antoni to start an unknown, undrafted player named Jeremy Lin. His impressive play in the NBA’s biggest market soon inspired “Linsanity.” Against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 10, Lin dropped 38 points — outscoring Kobe Bryant — and the noise reached a fever pitch. Anchors uttered his name 350 times during the 11 a.m. SportsCenter the week of Feb. 10-16 — more than they mentioned “but” or “if.”
But Miami was ready to put an end to the noise. Just two minutes into the game, Mario Chalmers applied full-court pressure on Lin. He stole the ball just as Lin dribbled past Miami’s 3-point line and went in for a dunk. Midway through the quarter, Joel Anthony and Chalmers trapped Lin and forced him into a turnover. A minute later, Lin lost the ball while driving to the basket.
That was three turnovers by the five-minute mark of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, it was Norris Cole’s turn to steal the ball from Lin and go in for a dunk. A few minutes later, Lin air-balled a floater. At the 3:30 mark, he drove into the lane and crashed into Shane Battier — an offensive foul. The Heat had bottled up Lin.
Late in the second, Chalmers knocked the ball out of Lin’s hands while he was taking the ball up-court. LeBron James threw down the ball with both hands.
The second half wasn’t much better for Lin. With a little over three minutes left in the third, Joel Anthony blocked Lin and handed the ball to LeBron. On the other end of the court, Shane Battier knocked down a corner 3. Miami went up by 13.
The Heat never let up. Even when Lin attempted a layup with five seconds left in the game and Miami up 102-88, Chris Bosh was there to contest. Lin finished the night shooting 1-for-11 from the field with eight turnovers. He was -19 for the game.
Lin later said of the game, “I felt like they were all like hawks circling me and staring.” The Heat geared their entire defensive plan against not Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire, but Lin. And Miami played defense at a playoff-level intensity. Can you think of another game when both Chalmers and Cole stripped the ball and dunked?