2015-16 Recap: Knicks 98, Heat 90

What an immensely satisfying game that was to watch. The Knicks played with the kind of energy I didn’t know if they were capable of after the Atlanta game last night with the starters all playing extended minutes, but several Knicks were not in Miami tonight to lose, most notably Carmelo Anthony. The man went 9-12 for 25 points and I honestly don’t remember any of the misses. It seemed like every time he touched the ball, he made a good decision, be it a smart rotation pass or a great ISO move to make a shot. It was a joy to watch, and I know Melo gets up for Miami games so I’m happy for him. The Knicks have lost 8 straight games to the longtime rival Heat going back to 2014, so this was just a pleasure to watch. Running out of synonyms to describe the experience of watching the game, but I’m sure like most of the fanbase, I am giddy after this improbably 3-game winning streak.

I can’t go another word without giving ROLO a ton of credit tonight. He held Whiteside to 8 points and 8 rebounds, and even if the Heat’s diamond in the rough is a bit hobbled, it was an extremely impressive game from Lopez. And his contributions were not just on the defensive end, as he went 9-12 for 19 points of his own tonight. It may have been his best game of the season, although I don’t have the stats in front of me to prove it, by the (bandage above the) eye test, it was his finest game in a Knicks uniform thus far in this writer’s opinion. If not for his play on both sides of the floor, the Knicks probably lose this game.

Bosh was abusive to Kristaps, who was only 3-10 (though 6-6 from the line) in this game and only collected 4 rebounds. That missed dunk was a big letdown for those of us wanting to see Taps on SportsCenter tonight, and unfortunately we might see him on the Top 10 getting posterized by Bosh or Whiteside, but what’s most important is that his team gets the W. I think Zinger played a solid game against a front line that really outmatches him, especially Bosh (12-22 for 28 tonight), who seems to go after Kristaps as if the young Latvian killed his dog last summer or something. Honestly, Miami seems to take it so personally that Zinger is so well thought of, and I wish I knew the story behind that. I know Bosh and Wade are extremely close with Melo, and my best guess is that has something to do with it, but whatever, the Heat can stare down the Rook all they want while they’re down 15 at home.

The game really turned when the Knicks went on a 15-4 run to end the 2nd quarter, giving them an 8-point lead to begin the 2nd half, which not-so-coincidentally was the same differential at the end of the 4th quarter. It seemed like the team gained a lot of confidence from that run and they never looked back, leading the game the rest of the way and never really getting themselves into significant danger thereafter. To be fair, the Heat missed a ton of shots (2-17 for 3, 11.8%), but shotmaking comes and goes in this league and the Heat should have stopped jacking it up at some point. This was the Knicks’ 4th win in 5 games and was probably their most impressive effort in the stretch, bringing them within a game of .500. San Antonio looms on Friday, which I admit to thinking of as an auto-loss, but after this recent stretch I’m not so sure. It would be ludicrous to predict a win on Friday against the Spurs, who are undefeated at home, but I’m definitely going to be watching with more optimism than I would have last Friday.

Make yourselves a drink, Knicks nation. Watch the Grizz-Thunder game if you’re so inclined, but however you spend the rest of your evening, spend it basking in the glow of victory.

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

20 thoughts to “2015-16 Recap: Knicks 98, Heat 90”

  1. While not up there with the best of Cavan’s report cards, the previews and recaps have been nice reading, very P&T-ish. Nice job, guys! You deserve a few great wins to write about.

  2. Oh btw, were 37 games in, and after going through one of the toughest 10-game stretches of the season, we’re 1 game under .500, 2 games out of the 8th seed Celts, 2.5 games behind 7th seed Detroit, 3 games behind 6th seed Atlanta and 4 games out of the 3-seed.

    On two occasions, we lost 4 in a row to go 4 games below .500 and were headed for disaster. Both times we responded with very strong stretches to get right back into the playoff race.

    Gotta give Fisher props for that. I couldn’t be more satisfied with how the season has played out thus far, given our quirky personnel situation.

  3. Also, RoLo is looking more like a $13 mill per player these days. I don’t cringe nearly as much when he goes to work in the post. He showed a very nice up and under move to go with the lefty no-jump hook.

    His major weakness these days is more consistent with what we expected: defending the perimeter and bigs that shoot 3’s. But man is he doing a lot of good lunch-pail things out there.

    On the other hand, I’m really disappointed in O’Quinn. He is crazy clumsy and goofy and couldn’t jump over a folded dollar bill. He needs a major physical and mental overhaul in the off-season. Right now, he clearly is a very limited player.

  4. Spurs over their last 6 games have outscored their opponents by an average of 20.7 points, and over the season are at +14.2.

    Tall order for our boys Friday, but we know they’ll go down fighting!

  5. Kristaps Porzingis is going to score his season high on Friday and take us to the victory. You heard it here first; LaMarcus Aldrige will be completely outclassed and Melo will distract Kawhi Leonard from the all out ass kicking Afflalo has in his pocket for the Spurs perimeter defense. And Robin Lopez is gonna kick Tim Duncan in the nuts. Go Knicks.

  6. we know they’ll go down fighting!

    “Did someone just say they’re going down on us?”
    -Tony Parker

  7. Lopez is getting a lot more confident with his post touches. He did go to Hakeem camp and he has some nice polished moves on the block, so it’s nice to see him have the faith in himself to go at guys in the post.

  8. Ok, all the Rolo and Melo haters will have to be quiet for at least a day. Those 2 had excellent games tonight by any measure. ( Except for Rolo’s rebounding numbers of course….)

  9. Lopez is playing way better overall these days, to the point where he now looks like a damn good player again. If you split his season in half so far, he had a .484 TS% in the first 18 games, and then a .586 TS% in his next 18 games, and that’s not even including tonight’s excellent game. Now that the offense is clicking better and running more smoothly, the team is also getting more impact from RoLo’s crushing screens. He had some real beauties in tonight’s game, I remember one in particular where he just obliterated Winslow. This Robin Lopez– the one that has been playing in the last 20 or so games– is a valuable player. I’ll admit I was way down on him earlier in the season but he is fast becoming one of my favorite players on the team.

  10. The screens were great, but his scoring, especially on put backs was huge. Also defensively he’s been doing a good job protecting the rim, which is nice to see from the Knicks for a change.

  11. This was an incredibly satisfying win. The question is whether this current hot stretch signifies the team finally figuring itself out — Fish settling on a smaller rotation, players more fully understanding the triangle and each others’ games — or just the latest high in a season destined to have lots of weirdly extended highs and lows. That it’s coincided with the rotation change suggests this could be more than just variance, but we’ve also had other stretches where, for instance, O’Quinn played really well for a handful of games and the team rose accordingly, before both fell back to earth.

    I’m going to enjoy it for now, though, even though I fear that Spurs game. Though if Melo can keep passing like this rather than trying to force shots against Kawhi’s smothering defense…

  12. If all else fails, at least Sasha and Seraphim are firmly in the doghouse, so that’s something real to hold on to. They identified who should not be on the court, ya know?

  13. Sasha is so much easier to like as a cheerleader with a short haircut than a rotation player with a hairnet.

  14. Nice to see Robin Lopez playing well. He just converted a lot of easy baskets. He’s very big and accurate with both hands on the little hook. Essentially unstoppable one on one. This doesn’t make him brilliant but it does make him effective and it’s nice to be able to cash in a bucket when the team needs it. It was like Lucy with the football last night (Charlie Brown reference). Every time they got even slightly close one of us would put in an easy shot. I love Calderon’s 4-5. We took what the defense gave us and consistently made smart decisions on offense.

    Melo played as good a game as anyone in the league last night. Bosh was the volume shooter. The Heat was the team jacking up shots with a high degree of difficulty.

    I cannot imagine a road win against SAS on Friday but I never would have imagined these last three games either. If we win it’ll be national (sports) news. Either way, I’m really proud of this team.

  15. Really impressed with that win last night. We didn’t get a lot of box score impact from KP but I think he altered a bunch of shots last night and generally made life difficult for anyone not named Bosh. I do, however, wish we could somehow create easier looks for him. Can’t remember whether it was Hahn or Herring but someone asked him why he was driving a lot more now — and he said it’s because he wanted to make teams pay for the hard closeout. Kristaps news flash — you don’t know how to finish in traffic yet. Take the catch and shoot jumper — they can’t come within feet of your release point.

    His degree of difficulty on his shots has to be the highest on the team. Gotta find him easier shots.

    Robin Lopez – looking like he belongs. There was some noise earlier in the year that he was dealing with a nagging injury of some sort, which now looks like it must’ve been true. He is so much quicker off the floor and in contesting shots. And he doesn’t seem to be giving quite as much room to jump shooters over the last week or 2.

    A highly underrated characteristic of this team: the amazing FT shooting. In fact – we are best in the league FT% at 81.7%. Within our top 9 guys in terms of minutes played, Derrick Williams is the worst FT shooter at 75%. Gallo is at 79%, everyone else is pretty much well north of 80%.

    League average is about 76%. Figure each team gets about 25 FTA per game, so the absolute difference in points scored per game for us versus an average team is about 1.4 PPG in absolute offensive productivity. Feels like that is significant although i’m not sure how to quantify that in terms of wins added.

  16. I wonder what kind of contract offer it would take to get Tyler Johnson away from Miami. Probably a lot. That dude is good.

  17. Last thought for now — Melo is obviously playing great, and looks like he has an extra bounce to his step recently (lots of dunks for him!) — but it makes you wonder…. what would our record be if he had gotten his surgery when it was obvious he needed it in December instead of February like he should have?

    (i guess we might not have KP — we could have Russell or Okafor… or Towns)

  18. Most impressive for me is that Melo only took 12 shots (plus getting fouled) even though everything was going in.

    This is a good time to be a Knicks fan.

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