Got to watch the entire second half last night. Well, considering my video feed was choppy as hell, it was an interesting perspective. Often, the video would freeze mid shot and I would be left to predict whether the shot was going in or not.
The third quarter was interesting. The Knicks started out getting some good looks for Amar'e who hit some jumpshots to give them some points. On the other end, Wade was making ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot. Meanwhile, the Heat sort of crept ahead, but didn't put the Knicks away. I noticed that LeBron was trying to be a power forward and post up. He's pretty damn good at basketball and thinks he can do anything, but I don't think he really knows how to play this way. He also doesn't know how to beat guys that are as tall and almost as strong as him, like Shawne Williams and Wilson Chandler, especially when he's nursing a bum ankle.
LeBron seemed intent on solving his slump and putting his stamp on the game, when maybe he should have just been letting Wade try to finish us off with his ridiculous Jordanesque scoring flurry. Also, you know that problem the Knicks sometimes have where no one besides Amar'e and Ray will step up to take and make big buckets? Well, the Heat have that a lot worse. It was LeBron trying to play out of position, Wade, and a bunch of guys that couldn't make a shot. So despite the Knicks being dry-ice cold from three, they entered the fourth down only 9, and I thought the game was winnable then.
My thought was - time to increase the defensive intensity on Wade, foul him, hard if necessary, and knock him off his groove. And the Knicks did that. They put him on the line, and he choked on free throws and lost his scoring groove. The Heat's only response was to clear out for LeBron and have him try to do something, and extra-E made it difficult for him. Then the crowd started getting into it - a crowd which, despite rooting for a team flirting with .500, was more knowledgable, boistrerous and full than any crowd, I'm sure, has been at wherever it is the Heat play their home games. I think that Wade and particularly LeBron had to be affected by this. They made their choices not to come here. Ya see what we were talking about guys?
I think Chandler has improved his late game performance this year, but to me Gallo showed the late game chutzpah that makes me like him a bit more. He made a couple of pretty drives, got to the line a couple of times, and then hit a great three. The next time he rose to make a three, the Heat got all jittery, and Landry threaded his way to the spot where the missed shot fell. Witness the Big Rebound, the most underrated (and the Landriest) of all clutchtime plays. That's when I started thinking that it was very likely the Knicks would win this game.
Four icy-hot Felton Free Frows later, and the Heat retreated to soothe their migraines and ankle pains and acute suckybenchitis. I think LeBron re-injured his ankle pursing a gratuitous ESPN highlight alley-oop in the first half. Awesome - that'll sell a few jerseys - but it hurt them. Lacking Bosh also hurt them in this one, but what compounds their problems is that though LeBron and Wade both have the ability to make tough shots under defensive pressure, they haven't found a way to combine their talents and be more than the sum of their parts.
The Knicks have their unquestioned point guard leader, and then their big man scoring interior leader, then their various supplemental parts. The Heat have Wade, who to me doesn't seem like much of a passer and a leader, but seems to be the alpha dog on the court - then LeBron, who's a bit better at passing and involving his teammates, but who doesn't seem to be the leader out there either. Then they have point guards that seem like holographic simulations of point guards. It's like 'Ha ha, how cute - he is acting sort of pointguardish'. That team is good defensively, but the Knicks, playing far from a perfect game, were able to beat them. I'm not particularly impressed by LeBron James. He has awesome talent, but having watched Jordan all those years, something seems to be missing. Maybe he would have been better off choosing NY, but the fact that he didn't illustrates, perhaps, what it is that's lacking.
In conclusion, F**k the Heat and while we're at it, F**k Pat Riley and Tim Hardaway's broke ass too. Yay!