HEAT 102 KNICKS 88 | AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA
How it happened:
Miami maintained momentum heading into the All-Star break by extending its winning streak to eight straight games. Behind 25 points from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade’s 22 points, the Heat defeated the Knicks 102-88 in downtown Miami.
The Heat unleashed a 16-9 run to close the second half and provided the squad with a 51-47 lead. Elite teams finish quarters with exclamation points and Miami accomplished that goal in the third quarter as well.
Just when J.R. Smith knocked the Heat’s advantage down to six points at the 5:17 mark of the third period, Miami answered by rattling off a 12-4 offensive spurt. The 80-66 lead entering the fourth quarter was enough distance for the home team to secure the win over its New York rival.
Arguably, the league’s best defensive unit swarmed the Knicks on each possession. New York committed 15 of its 19 turnovers in the first half, mainly a result of the suffocating pressure from the long and athletic Heat wing players. Jeremy Lin was caught in Miami’s web for most of the night as he was limited to just eight points on 1-for-11 shooting from the floor.
The bright spot for the Knicks was the play of Carmelo Anthony, who seemed to find an offensive rhythm in the second half. Anthony returned to the lineup against New Jersey earlier in the week and is still recovering from a strained groin. The New York small forward worked his way to the rack for buckets in the paint as opposed to relying on the jumper. Anthony finished with a team-high 19 points.
The Knicks are still missing a key piece to the puzzle as Iman Shumpert missed his third consecutive game due to tendinitis in his knee. Had he been included in the lineup, Shumpert would have helped defend the perimeter, especially on Wade and James.
Smith and Steve Novak combined for 26 off the pine, Amar’e Stoudemire posted 13 points, and Tyson Chandler grabbed nine boards. With the loss, New York fell to 17-18 while the Heat improved to 27-7 on the season.
As expected, the Heat were strong in open floor and capitalized on those opportunities. Miami outscored New York 19-5 on the fastbreak on Thursday night.
As mentioned above, Anthony was aggressive in attempting to reach the rim against LeBron James. He showed flashes of the old Melo and will need to take advantage of the All-Star break to regain his health. On 20 shots from the perimeter, Anthony hit seven of those attempts and also tallied seven rebounds in 34 minutes of court time.
The first half of the season has officially concluded with a portion of the Knicks heading to All-Star weekend and the rest heading home to rest until Monday. Anthony will participate in the marquee event on Sunday representing New York for the Eastern Conference squad. Lin and Fields will team up in the Rising Stars challenge on Friday night. Stay tuned to KnicksNow.com for comprehensive coverage from Orlando throughout the weekend.