A few minutes into the third quarter, I was emotionally prepared to chalk this up to a quick recap, and toss-up a funny picture or two. Unfortunately, Mike beat me to the the post. Luckily, this game was a complete and utter disaster, so I don’t think anyone could fault me for kicking things off with a ‘too long, didn’t read’ version of the recap:
This was without question the Knicks worst all-around effort of the season, and perusing the box score belies how poorly the team played on both ends of the court. One might look at the Heat’s 38.3 FG% and see that Wade and Bosh shot a combined 8 of 28 from the field, and assume that the defense showed up. Those numbers, however, are far more indicative of the Heat struggling on offense than the Knicks playing lock-down defense.
The Knicks allowed what felt like dozens of wide open shots from the rim to out past the arc, and, by some stroke of serendipity, the Heat missed a good chunk of those looks. Bosh missed open jumpers, Wade muffed a lay-up, Dragic and Deng missed open three pointers on the same possession, so on and so forth … and yet they still managed to score 95 points (2.7 points below their season average). Why? Second chance points and ball movement, mostly, as well as a healthy dose of friendly calls by the referees.
I do find it necessary to point out that the Heat did benefit from at least two foul calls against Porzingis that are best described as malarkey (which is one of my favorite words). The first came when the Latviathan contested a Bosh jumper, and their arm hair intertwined every so gently. The referee waited to see if the ball went in and then to see who got the rebound before blowing the whistle. A bit later, Porzingis went for the ball as Wade lackadaisically dribbled it up the court. Wade reacted by halting his dribble and berating the referee until he called a foul – and I remain shocked that he called a reach-in on Porzingis, as opposed to a technical foul on Wade. It was truly a sight to behold.
But I digress. The Knicks defense was slow to react and sloppy, which is never a winning combination. They botched rotations, didn’t hustle back in transition, and flat-out gave up after a few offensive rebounds. It was a flashback into the dying days of the 2014-15 Knicks, which is something I was hoping I would never see again.
Amazingly, the offense was even worse. The team shot 16.7% from 3 (4 of 24), which includes a 3 for 5 effort by Porzingis. Langston Galloway ran into regression headfirst, missing all five of his attempts from deep (as did Anthony). To the Heat’s credit, they did chase the Knicks shooters around the perimeter, and contested shots with their length (Winslow and the punchable-faced Tyler Johnson were menaces out there). But the Knicks missed plenty of open looks, too, and took questionable shots early in the shot clock throughout the game.
Most recaps will focus on the second quarter, and with good reason – the Knicks were held to 11 points. That’s not a typo. They were 4 of 18 from the field (0 for 5 from 3), and, to steal a phrase from NBA Jam, couldn’t buy a bucket. They missed floaters and hook shots, lay-ups and jumpers, and didn’t even attempt a dunk. The team as a whole seemed to give up on moving the ball around, chucking up shots as soon as the Heat closed out.
These were not the Knicks that we saw win four in a row tonight. And, stepping back a bit, that’s okay. They were playing a very good team on the road, and the Heat have long had their number on their turf. And there are a few positives. Porzingis played strong individual defense on Bosh, and put up an impressive 20 and 14 with 2 blocks, a steal, and only one turnover. The team played with fire after Whiteside mugged Lopez under the rim, and Anthony sniped at him a bit. And Vujacic only played three minutes.
So ended the Knicks four game winning streak. But we still have Porzingis to be grateful for in this young season, and that’s far more than we had a year ago.