Sometime towards the end of the second quarter, the Knicks decided they were willing to get outcompeted by the Heat, which is a discouraging trend of late. When the lead evaporated before halftime and the third quarter became a friendly competition between Knicks to see who could hit the front of the rim the softest, the signs were there. Even with a spirited start to the 4th, the Knicks were caving faster than a mole with vertigo and they essentially watched Gerald Green assassinate their chances to avenge the loss on Monday.
The turning point happened when Green was fouled on a 3-pointer in the beginning of the 4th, resulting in three made free throws that effectively Frankensteined a player that every relevant statistic considered to be an inanimate corpse. The Knicks then watched helplessly as Green went all NBA-JAM-He’s-on-Fire for the next few minutes and put the game out of reach.
It certainly didn’t help that the Knicks only managed 29 2nd half points, resuming their woeful offensive play after a promising first half, or that The Latviathan was laden with foul trouble throughout and could never really establish himself in the game, but a lot went wrong in the 2nd half.
Bosh Spice was extremely effective at bothering Porzingis and helping get him into foul trouble. Because of his unique skill set and underrated defensive ability, I assumed Bosh would be problematic for the Zing God, but Bosh really brought it tonight. Must have liked the spread at Melo’s Thanksgiving last night or something, but the sequence when Bosh blocked Porzingis and found Green open for 3 to extend the Heat’s lead to 13 early in the 4th was dream-shattering. It essentially ended the game.
The bench was notably improved, going 18-43 for 28 points, but still shot a poor percentage and had too many defensive breakdowns. It was a step in the right direction, but in the past three games the second unit has been little more than an awkward euphemism for a 2nd-string sex toy.
The Heat undeniably have more talent than the Knicks right now, and they are a good test because of that, but the Knicks have to play with more intensity against the good teams in this league. The Heat had 28 FTA to the Knicks 15, only 4 of which came from the starting 5. That kind of emphatic lack of aggression is a symptom of an uninspired team, and that understandably happens from time to time in a sport where teams play 82 games in a season, so hopefully the Knicks can rise above their Holiday malaise and regroup.
It’s important to point out how good the Heat’s defense is and how that is a contributing factor to the Knicks’ performance against them, but to be held under 80 points twice in four days by the same team is concerning no matter the situation. The ball moved less than a coma patient for large portions of the second half as the offense stalled and that’s something Phil Ja–err, Derek Fisher, will need to address. Even a simple pick & roll from the top has been difficult to execute lately and a lot of that has to do with the terrible outside shooting, resulting in defenses sucking in towards the paint and sealing off driving and passing lanes.
The Knicks will be glad to see a team dealing with a host of their own existential issues, the Rockets, on Sunday, but they have plenty to work on until then.