Heat 104, Knicks 94
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 45 MIN | 12-26 FG | 6-9 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 30 PTS | -11
Sometimes a good classmate clowning is good for the soul – and the will. After a truly putrid performance in Game 1, Melo came out the tunnel a man possessed in the Second Act, all but duct taping his tepid teammates to shoulders. The shot selection itself left a lot to be desired – once again, way too heavy a reliance on two-or-three-dribble pull-ups from 18-20 feet – but at least #7 didn’t treat the paint like a lake of kryptonite.
Brass tacks, the Knicks needed all of Melo’s hoists. But it’s also clear that getting his will come at the expense of an increasingly stagnant offense; one whose tendencies the Heat are absorbing and learning like a pack of rabid Raptors. This shit keeps up, we’ll be issuing 2012 Report Cards by next Monday.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 41 MIN | 6-9 FG | 6-9 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | -9
The beauty of basketball often goes beyond the abilities and talents of a given player, and into the deeper question of how that player can be put in the best position to succeed. I’ve been tooting the Sixth-Man-Stat horn for a while now, mainly because I think he excels as the focal point of a faster-paced, smaller second unit. Unfortunately, Woody just doesn’t see it that way, as evidenced by his propensity for tethering Stat to Melo in extended stretches. His name was once again little more than short for Statuesque on the defensive end, with ‘E lazily getting back in transition and thenceforth lost amidst the Heat’s Hit-the-Open-Man sets.
The result was a truly forgettable performance that – while peppered by a few violent dunks and flashes of interest – threw into high relief how far Stat has truly fallen from mid-aught glory. Three years, $65 million to go.
|Tyson Chandler, C 33 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -7
I might be alone here, but it seems to me that not eating for three days and ending your Saturday on a hotel IV drip indicates either A) You’re half-way through a peyote trip with Jim Morrison, or B) you were clearly ill and probably shouldn’t have been allowed to make your own bowl of Corn Flakes, let alonw play in a professional basketball game. Two days later, and Chandler – while clearly not at 100% — had a noticeable pep about his step. His minutes were understandably limited, his energy — typically the fountain from which the ‘Bockers feast — ditto. After his two ferocious second quarter dunks briefly brought the Knicks to the brink of confidence, #tysonflugame became a real possibility. Alas, it was not to be.
|Baron Davis, PG 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 12 PTS | -5
We knew Baron’s back had been tensing up since Saturday’s voodoo séance, and all things considered he wasn’t a complete disaster — although a pair of ridiculous shot clock-beating threes probably skewed the results a smidge. But it’s on the defensive end in particular that Baron’s age-wear is so glaring as to be translucent. Against an opponent whose relative youth, zeal and zest render them their own laser light show, being five years removed from your career apex starts to feel more like fifty.
|Landry Fields, G 18 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -15
Landry, meet Dwyane. He’ll be eating your face now. Ah ah ah ah ah! Don’t struggle! Just sit back and enjoy it! It’ll hurt less that way. Who knows, he might even put you in his next T-Mobile commercial!….. Probably he’ll just digest your face and fart it out later.
Mostly I just feel bad for Landry, a guy who seems so confident and cocksure off court, but who has an alarming tendency to turn to smoke when pitted against the big boys on the block.
|Mike Bibby, PG 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -5
After a promising first half in which he…. scored…. Bibby spent most of the rest of the contest coffin-nailed. As with his aforementioned junior, I just feel bad for the guy. Not because he’s any more of a liability than Baron Davis or – gulp – Toney Douglas. Rather, it really brings my piss to a boil watching a veteran of 14+ years, many of them near All-Star caliber, sit idly by as Dwyane Wade picks up his left foot and tosses it out of bounds with absolutely no repercus….. That was just his shoe? Oh. That’s good.
In all seriousness, I can’t help but stare over and over at the 0 turnover stat — really, he’s pretty good about taking care of the ball — and think he has to be providing something the other points simply aren’t…. And then I remember that he really isn’t and can’t, because he’s less capable of driving to the cup than an alcoholic grandmother.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 4 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +1
Who else had Charles Smith acid flashbacks?
|Steve Novak, SF 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -2
His 1-3 night, two-turnvoer night notwithstanding, Novak — amazingly — is one of the few guys who doesn’t look totally flustered when he catches the ball (he’s 3-5 on tries from deep so far in the series). Melo in particular needs to do a better job of hitting Kaine in stride near the top of the key off of elbow isos, although Miami’s done a stellar job of making sure they’re committing a half-decent defender to Novak whenever he’s on the floor.
Which is going a really long way to to say that I just don’t fuckin know anymore…
|J.R. Smith, SG 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 13 PTS | +3
Prior to the series, I posited that Earl’s bench production was tantamount to New York’s success in the series. Thus far, J.R. — seemingly genetic restless chucks aside — has managed to pull his weight. On offense, anyway. On defense, Smith got lost on far too many screens and cuts, mostly while guarding D-Wade or LBJ.
But so did / does Landy. Which begs the question: At what point does Woodson see it fit to start J.R.? Yes, that leaves our bench Austin Daye-thin. But the dude logged like 90 minutes a game in China; it’s not like he doesn’t have the stamina. Sure, the thought of the damage J.R. Smith can do given 36 minutes of playing time horrifies me more than a nuclear Ireland. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the prudent route.
Five Things We Saw
- A quick glance at the number reveals a bevy of surprising outcomes in favor of the Knicks, with rebounding (40-33, including 12-7 on the offensive glass), limited turnovers (only 13, below their season average, and far below the 24 coughed up in Saturday’s crap fest); and pace-keeping shooting (49% to Miami’s 52%) being chief among them. Where Miami pulled away was A) from distance (9 treys to the ‘Bockers’ 5), and B) on the stripe (27 attempts to New York’s 19).
- The Heat scored nearly half (50/104) of their points in the paint. Why? Because they’re one of the most aggressive tin-ward driving team in recent memory, and their wings know how to pass on the run. What results is open shot after open shot, which — even when the slinger firing is known to be streaky — makes the odds much more favorable that they connect.
- As Tom Haberstroh pointed out yesterday, before Iman Shumpert’s tragic season-ending injury, Wade was actually scoring at a much higher clip with Shump on the floor than off. Which, OK. But I say go ahead and file that one under “misleading stats.” The Knicks missed Shumps intensity, aggressiveness, profuse sweat bordering on a thyroid issue, all of it — and on both ends of the floor. Now, with Amar’e poised to join the ranks of the fallen, the Knicks’ season is quickly morphing into some kind of twisted 21st century reenactment of the siege of the Alamo — the Fess Parker version, where Melo’s left swinging his rifle as wave after wave of freedom-hating Mexicans (the Heat…. work with me) storm at him bayonets-a-blazin’…. Maybe that’s why I have such awful issues with defeat: I spent half my childhood watching my heroes get murdered.
- LATE BREAKING NEWS: Apparently Amar’e Stoudemire, upon entering the visitor’s locker room, punched a fire extinguisher and lacerated his hand. He’s been ruled out of Thursday’s game, and probably the rest of the series.
…. Now, I’m not a doctor. In fact, there are few people in the world I’d be less inclined to take medical advice from than myself. That being said, the following is a list of locker room fodder better suited to absorb the punch of you, six-time NBA All-Star power forward: Door of locker; door leading to locker room; door leading to bathroom; jersey on hanger; can of Tenactin; toilet head; toilet seat; face of Josh Harrellson; air; duffel bag; punching bag from training room; own balls; own face; own pectoral; pair of shoes; stream of shower water; carpeted floor.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
- It’s easy to delude oneself into believing that Stat’s sudden, blood-drenched departure means a return to the halcyon days of winning with Melo at the four. But that’s probably far too simplistic an answer. Miami has the bodies, the speed, the quickness, and — most of all — the communicative camaraderie, to figure out how to Make Melo work for his. Whether or not they can actually stop him is a question of a far different stripe — and if his 42-point Garden performance (whilst playing power forward, no less) is any indication, maybe they can’t. We hope they can’t. We pray they can’t, even, because that’s all we really have left, at this point.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.