The streaking was ugly. But the game was beautiful.
I actually got to watch pretty much this whole thing. Yay!
In the first quarter, the Knicks pounced out, utilizing all their newly acquired point guard experience and depth to whip the ball around and secure open shots, which they hit, if they were 3 pointers. The Heat seemed a little surprised that the Knicks didn't merely wilt at all their defensive trapping and such. It was cool.
Late in the first, they tried some of that trapping the point guard stuff that wilted Jeremy Lin last year and Pablo threaded some pretty passes to open Knick bros. It was sweet.
Defensively, Melo played LeBron tough and our thick point guards, Ray Ray and Kidd, seemed to do well when they were switched onto bigger guys, such as LeBron James, you may have heard of him - his shoulders are about twice as wide as Melo's shoulders. And yet, though his skill was evident, he wasn't really hurting us too badly.
The Knicks made the Heat look like the rudderless collection of two great swingmen and a lanky power forward that they were when they first got together.
As they went into the second quarter, the Knicks seemed to be overpassing a bit. I sensed a (somewhat expected) confusion from Jason Kidd at the role of not being running things himself. Melo seemed to get a little gassed and started settling for pullup threes and long twos. But the Knicks D and rebounding stayed tough enough to maintain an 11 point lead at halftime.
I fully expected the Heat to roar back immediately in the third quarter, and I happened to have also missed that part of the game, but somehow, when I turned it back on halfway through the third, The Knicks had expanded their lead. I'm not sure how exactly that happened, but I think Novak and defense had something to do with it.
The Knicks seemed to do a good job of preventing Heat fastbreaks, and though their offense got a little stally (I think that the point guards allowed the Heat point guards to get up into them too easily), their defense prevented the Heat from mounting any kind of major comeback. Just when it seemed the Heat were threatening to drop the lead to single digits, the Knicks would find an open Steve Novak for a three. In the critical first part of the 4th quarter when the game was still loseable, Novak hit a couple, J.R. Smith hit a 3, Kurt Thomas got a big offensive rebound, and a wise old KIdd faked one of those Heats into falling into him and threw up (it was actually like vomiting) a 3 pointer which missed, but Kidd calmly sank the trifecta of free throws. That was when I thought, "Holy Shit, the Knicks are actually going to win this game!"
In the end, I'd have to say that while the Knicks didn't play a perfect game offensively, and there's still a lot of room for improvement, the point guarding was pretty consistently good. Guys like J.R. Smith and Brewer need to get a little more comfy with their roles, and they need to lean on Melo a bit less if they can, but there was a lot to like out there.
Defensively, I thought the guys were disciplined and poised, and played pretty well throughout. Chandler got a little too fouly but Kurt Thomas, jeez, the guy does not look like he aged since the last time he was a Knick. In fact, the highlight of the game for me, was Thomas' first foul. Man, I was waiting like 10 years for that.
At the end, garbage time elicited a pleasing "Ra-Sheed-Waaaa-Lace" chant from the crowd, and an even more pleasing mic'd up Mike Woodson asking Rasheed, "Sheed, you wanna play some"? Rasheed bounded up and down the court quite promisingly. He didn't look particularly good in his one post up opportunity, but on the next possession he swished a three to bring the Knicks' lead back to 20.
All in all a promising beginning. They hit a lot of threes, but they weren't crazy contested threes - they were mostly good, open shots in rhythm, and they'll hit a lot of those if they keep that type of ball movement. My impression was that the Knicks could have used Shump and Amar'e out there, though, just to have a little more youthful energy, at times during the game. But it's hard to complain about the outcome.