GAME 4: KNICKS 89 HEAT 87| MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
After two days off from Game 3, both teams struggled to find the offensive flow throughout the first half. New York and Miami were a combined 0-for-17 at the 3-point line and the Heat held a 44-38 lead heading into the locker room.
Amar’e Stoudemire made his return to action and played inspired basketball during the early stages of the first half. His running mate, Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks early with 18 first half points and helped the squad remain in striking distance.
The third quarter was filled with drama and gigantic plays to set the stage for an incredible finish. Trailing 51-40 at the 8:22 mark, New York refused to go away behind a 15-1 run over a four-minute time span. Unfortunately, Baron Davis suffered a dislocated right patella during the Knicks spurt and was carried off the floor on a stretcher with 4:40 left in the period. Rallying after the Davis injury, New York blitzed Miami behind some momentum changing plays from Anthony. At 1:03, Anthony sprinted through the lane and kicked out to Mike Bibby for a 3-ball and on a possession with 27 seconds on the clock, the All-Star drained a fadeaway jumper to give New York a 64-58 lead.
To start the final stanza, Steve Novak hit a rare 3-pointer but minutes later, Dwyane Wade connected on an old fashioned 3-point play. With Miami holding a 72-69 advantage, J.R. Smith nailed a fading jumper and Anthony found Stoudemire for a dunk to shift the lead back in New York’s favor.
Following two Wade free throws, Anthony delivered an impressive jumper over James to tie the game at 81-81 with 1:23 on the game clock. Anthony then found Bibby for another huge 3-pointer, providing New York with an 84-81 edge.
Bibby was instrumental down the stretch as the only point guard next to Toney Douglas left on the roster. The veteran finished with six points and five boards in 22 minutes of action while playing a crucial role for an injury plagued team.
Anthony’s good friend, LeBron James showed his clutch skill set as well. James tied the game at 84-84 with a top of the arc long ball at 1:16. The following play, Anthony cleared out the floor for an isolation pull-up 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Shane Battier.
Anthony was fouled on another 3-point attempt with 25.9 seconds on the clock. He would hit 1-of-3 shots at the charity stripe and New York was clinging to an 88-84 lead. On the opposite side, James scored on a ridiculous left handed bank shot. He was fouled on the play by Tyson Chandler, who was sent to the sidelines with his sixth personal foul.
Facing an 88-87 deficit, Miami shipped Stoudemire to the free throw line and he made 1-of-2 to provide a two-point cushion with 13.2 seconds remaining. Defensively, the Knicks focused on forcing a difficult shot from either James or Wade. The Heat decided to roll with Wade and he worked his way through the paint before sliding out the corner for a contested 3-point attempt. Fields effectively defended Wade as the shot missed from 24 feet.
Anthony led the way with a game-high 41 points, Stoudemire added an inspiring 20 points and 10 boards, and Chandler grabbed nine rebounds in the remarkable 89-87 victory at Madison Square Garden.
“He [Anthony] wasn’t ready to go home. He just balled. It was a grind all night and we couldn’t find shots in the first half, they couldn’t find them in the second. Both teams were defending and we were just grinding. I though the steal that J.R. Smith hand and then he hit the three jumpstarted us and got the fans back into the game. And, we never really looked back. I know it was looking a bit tight down the stretch when Melo missed a couple of free throws, but the momentum had shifted in our favor and we just kept battling.” – interim head coach Mike Woodson
With the Knicks back against the wall, Anthony elevated his play and became just the third Knick to score 40-plus points in a postseason elimination game. His 41 points was just one shy of his postseason career high of 42 points. The All-Star logged 40 minutes, shot 15-of-29 from the floor, hit 10-of-14 free throws, and snatched six boards. Anthony’s performance was jaw-dropping, considering the wave of Heat defenders he faced all day. James, Battier, and Wade all tried to lock down one of the league’s most prolific scorers and they all failed as he lifted the Knicks to a monumental win.
The Knicks outrebounded Miami 43-40 and matched the road squad in second chance points (10-10). Additionally, New York held the Heat to just 89 points. In the regular season, the Knicks were 21-1 when holding their opponent under 90 points.
State of the Series:
New York forced a Game 5 in Miami with the Heat still holding a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday night at 7 PM on MSG Networks.
The Knicks will have the day off tomorrow and practice on Tuesday in preparation for another elimination game on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.