|Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 18-26 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 50 PTS | +15
Lazily rotated out on a number of Mike Miller bombs. What a toolbox.
|Iman Shumpert, SF 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +6
Talk about returning to the scene of the crime. As many in the NBA intelligentsia noted heading into tip-off, the mental hurdle that this game represented for Shump is one that few outside the professional or collegiate ranks could ever truly appreciate. Which made the clicking long ball all the more encouraging. The D was spotty at times, but that’s kind of par for the course in this one. Efficient, energetic, mostly mistake free – keep the change, Shump.
|Tyson Chandler, C 24 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 1 PTS | +13
The fact that Miami didn’t think to do a Tyson Chandler Bobblehead Night tells you everything you need to know about the Heat organization, its fans, and the state of Florida in general. Equal our championships in one-third the seasons notwithstanding. There was an ’89 Camry’s worth of rust to be knocked off, but Chandler looked more and more spry as the game ground on. Given how readily the Knicks sent double teams to aid Tyson on the Block – even against Rashard Lewis, who has entered the paint maybe 15 times in his career – you have to wonder whether he should’ve been out there at all. This believe was shamed out of me immediately upon Tyson’s pulverizing recovery block on a Bosh layup attempt; the kind of psychological dagger that seals a game minutes before the final buzzer. Welcome back, sir. Please trim whatever that is.
|Raymond Felton, PG 38 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | +15
Raymond Felton wetting himself over the prospects of facing a depleted Heat team because “point guard is their weakest position” would be infuriating if it weren’t so priceless. The subsequent start was totally predictable: Brick, turnover, foul, turnover, brick, foul, nap time. He would come back to hit a terrible off-balance fading jumper (with the clock winding down, granted), but for the most part remained invisible for much of the first half. Ray picked up big time in the second half, hitting a number of tough late shot-clock jumpers, swinging the ball effectively, and doing a much better job bodying up the admittedly hapless Norris Cole. His bulletin board material has since been replaced by the “Free ‘Strip’ Steak” coupon J.R. Smith dropped on his way out of the Knick locker room.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -4
Woodson’s past reluctance to wheel Prigs out for heavy minutes against the Flying Death Machine couldn’t help but subside in the wake of Pablo’s recent stellar play. To mixed results, however. Save for a nice late second quarter steal-to-transition-three, ‘twas a mostly muted affair from our more angular point. When Norris Cole is giving you fits, it’s probably time to take it easy – throw on some Steely Dan and hammer a Cuban or two.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -1
His abdomen didn’t unravel like a yarn spool on the first flush, so we’ll assume K-Mart’s good to go for the home stretch. As with Chandler, the Heat did an excellent job of neutralizing Kenyon’s interior presence – at least in the first half. Tonight’s performance was notable for a good mix of clumsy touches, a couple timely buckets, and a slew of flying anvil fouls that helped turn would-be flushes into regular splits at the stripe. He also dunked on Chris Andersen’s head, which is a win for humans.
|Chris Copeland, SF 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -3
CHRIS COPELAND ANAGRAM FUN: CHANCRE ID SLOP
|Steve Novak, SF 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -2
All those in favor of making Novak stay back and mow Melo’s lawn the next time we board for Miami? Not everyone at once. Sure, that corner three to end the third was great. But one shot does not an invisible performance preclude. the Heat just know how to strike that perfect balance between keeping an eye on ol’ Steve, while staying honest to the rotations around them.
|Jason Kidd, PG 27 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +10
I neglected to take a single note on Kidd until well into the third quarter, when “just tried to chase down Allen on crutches” broke the seal. A fourth quarter rife with timely plays and heady positioning helped salvage an otherwise shaky – though by no means disastrous – tilt. Too much time on the notorious South Beach shuffleboard courts, perhaps.
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 5-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +11
Some spurts of decent play – HUZZA that initial bomb from the wing – peppered a night in which Earl simply wasn’t getting the whistles to which we’ve grown accustomed this past fortnight. J.R. made up for it with some strong ‘bounding, hard-nosed D, and one dagger three late in the fourth with the Knicks already pulling away. His flight to Atlanta will arrive 25 minutes before tipoff tomorrow.
Five Things We Saw
- Without the services of LeBron, D-Wade, Mario Chalmers, and Bimbo Coles, Miami’s strategy was simple: Beat the Knicks at their own game. To wit: Plant Bosh on the block, spread the floor, bat the ball about, and hit the open the shot. Barring that, once you goad the Knicks into a mess of switches that result in flagrant mismatches on the interior (Jason Kidd on Rashard Lewis was a personal favorite – I don’t really know why), dump it down low and garner either an easy bucket or a pair of throws. The plan worked to perfection for the first 30 minutes or so, with the Heat hitting over 50% of their threes and tripling the Knicks’ output in the paint. All the while, tremendously bad switches abound. I almost ate my seltzer can.
- This is how the Knicks ended the first quarter: Melo heat check with 24 seconds left, late foul on Battier at the other end, immediate technical foul, three free throws for the Heat. If I’m Woodson, I’m strapping Melo to a chair, forcing his eyeballs open a la Alex in A Clockwork Orange, and making him watch this until Dolan tells me to stop. Should we meet the Heat in a seven-game series, that’s the kind of shit that can turn “anyone’s game” into “James White played 29 minutes.”
- Let’s talk about Mike Miller. I remember watching Mike Miller fold like a cheap lawn chair against my Spartans back in the 2000 title game. Kid could barely shoot, though his next-level talent was undeniable. Save for a three-point rigor mortis spasm in last year’s Finals, Mike Miller has been clinically dead for at least four years. But as every fan of zombie flicks understands, you give those fuckers enough time and space, they’ll gnaw you new eye sockets. I’m not sure what was more predictable: The three barrage (18 first half points), or the fact that he completely disappeared down the stretch. The entire second half, specifically. It was fun / terrifying while it lasted.
- The Knicks did a much better job of limiting turnovers in the second half, while forcing enough on Miami’s end to keep them from recapturing their earlier rhythm. That, coupled with snappier rotations, better help defense, and tauter perimeter pressure, was the secondary difference.
- Yu Darvish wasn’t the only one within an inch or two of perfection tonight. Melo’s performance was a lot of things: incendiary; encouraging; effortless. Few may realize this, but – with a hat-tip once again to Kevin for pointing this out – Melo only needed one more of those rattled-out triples to break the single-game scoring record for a Knick playing on the road (Willis Reed and Bernard King each tallied 53). That says something. It says that Melo is capable of lighting it up anywhere, and not just in center-focused light of MSG. For a team that may well spend the better part of its spring march — however long it lasts — sans the power of home court, few things are more valuable.