Well, Amar'e Stoudemire's little glass-bashing outburst managed to suck up all the post-game attention, but I'm pretty sure there was a sporting event prior to that. It didn't go very well for our Knicks, as I recall. It wasn't a blazing nosedive like the previous loss, but a solid, thorough squashing by a Miami team that just appears to be way better at basketball than the Knicks are. To my eye, it never really felt like the Knicks were in this one, even as they repeatedly clawed back from deficits. The Heat have just been operating on a different plane in Miami.
On one end, the Knicks pounded the ball into the floor (usually only one side of it) until time was up and somebody had to shoot. Miami's defense-- even against smart movement-- revealed gaps only for vanishing moments, and New York just didn't appear to have the personnel (passers, ball-handlers, shooters) to exploit those gaps. And we're talking about an offense that produced relatively adequate numbers of 49 percent shooting and 13 turnovers. They just looked outmatched. Melo chipped in his 30 points and Baron Davis, Tyson Chandler, and Amar'e Stoudemire all shot well enough, but none were able to get sufficient quality looks. In the first half, the Knicks kept pace by rebounding many of their own misses (silver lining: Chandler appears to be alive), but the Heat protected their glass much, much better after the break (the Knicks had ten o-bounds in the first half and two in the second).
The defensive end presented the most problems. New York's switching D was at it's switchingest, with defenders scurrying wildly around the perimeter (or, on many occasions, just chilled) while the Heat zipped the ball to a scorer, then poked a hole to draw help and find somebody wide open in a comfortable spot. Landry Fields, bless his heart, didn't have a prayer of containing Dwyane Wade's fakes and floaters in the paint. LeBron James wasn't even that aggressive, but when he plowed past screens to break free from Anthony, the help was tardy or entirely absent, and he made one perfect read after another to get somebody an open look (Related: Miami hit nine of 21 threes). Kind of a dick, that guy.
Yeah. From Mike Woodson right on down to the last player off the bench (Jared Jeffries, I guess), the Knicks' game plan, execution, and effort paled in comparison to Miami's. Again, the night was far less devastating than Sunday afternoon, but that loss and the Amar'e stuff afterward sucked, just like seton hall and steelers said in the game thread. This series hasn't been even a little fun so far.
Take the jump for some very quick individual notes.
- Melo was crazy streaky in this one. He drilled his first two shots, missed his next five, then hit his next three (and 7 of 16 after that). To my eye, Miami doubled and fronted a lot less than they had in the previous game, so Melo held on to the ball a bit more. To his credit, Melo made a concerted effort to get near the rim and draw contact. He didn't always get the whistle he wanted, which culminated in some awkward, ugly shots, but the effort was there. There were a few yucky jumpers, too, though I wouldn't call it a bad outing. Obviously, New York needed a lot more than "not bad" to beat the Heat in Miami, but oh well.
- Melo also fuckin' yammed on Joel Anthony Let us not forget this:
- When he got the ball, Stoudemire did some lovely things on offense. He deftly slipped some screens and got himself some finishes around the basket and drawn fouls. On defense, he drifted a lot, failed to help, and failed to box out, but had one violent block of Chris Bosh at the rim. Nothing unusual. Then he smashed a pane of glass and split his hand open. That was unusual.
- Again, Tyson Chandler didn't play big minutes, but it was really reassuring to see him actually run around a bit, play some defense, clean some glass, and get all the way to the rim without mishap. After he looked so disconcertingly broken on Sunday, even 26 minutes of semi-effective Chandler meant a lot.
- It was sort of a similar situation for Baron Davis, though he made some great plays on Sunday. Tonight, Baron only spun for 27 minutes (he sat the whole second quarter), but made plenty of stuff happen off the dribble. He threw some of those patented last-second sneak passes to Chandler and finished a couple of drives himself (including one beeeeautiful lefty scoop-in off a gem of a ball fake). He also drained a couple silly-ass threes to beat shot clock buzzers in the third.
- J.R. Smith hit six of eleven shots and threw five rather lovely assists. Man, as I'm looking at my notes, I'm realizing that four or five Knicks played perfectly solid offensive games. It's just that the defense was so helpless that New York needed much more. Fields, Mike Bibby, Steve Novak, and Jared Jeffries can't exactly create their own shots, though, and none of 'em got the looks they needed to muster some contributions. New York's offense got sticky far too often, and even when Woodson got Melo moving or used one scorer to decoy for another and create some space, the results weren't bountiful enough to compensate for what Miami had going on at the other end.
To New York we go, probably without Amar'e in uniform. We'll see how that goes. Even short-handed, it couldn't possibly suck as much as these past two games have sucked, right? Right!?!!?