A lot of y'all said a lot of pretty great things during the Knicks' wanton squashing of the Heat in Miami, but the most common late-game comment by far was just unbridled, caps-locked laughter. That's pretty much what I was doing over here, too. Tonight was hilarious. Without Carmelo Anthony and his lacerated finger, on the road in Miami (where the Heat were undefeated), in a SEGABABA after a gritty previous win, the Knicks just toyed with a wholly unprepared bunch of Heatbros. Before the game, we were all like "No Melo in Miami! Knicks are playing with house money!", then the Knicks snatched all that house money and stuffed it in their pockets and mouths. Sucks to our lowered expectations.
Remember that ridiculous game last year when Bill Walker and the Melo-less Knicks chucked and hit a ton of three-pointers, but lost by ten? This was that game's much handsomer, roid-raging cousin. Not only did New York hit a preposterous 18 of 44 threes (nearly identical to the mark in last year's loss), but they outworked the Heat on the glass, won the turnover battle by a factor of two, and ended up enjoying 91 shot attempts to the Heat's 76. The Knicks caught the Heat in an eerie, somnambulant funk and just mushed their sleepy faces into the floor. And we LAUGHED.
- What do you want, Raymond Felton? You want me to unwrap a whole variety pack of popsicles and feed them to you simultaneously so you can taste all the flavors at once? You want me to push you around in an over-sized stroller while you sing Christmas carols and guzzle cider? Name it, I'll do it. You deserve to be pampered Raymond-style after a game like that one. Good lord, Duck. If you missed it, guys, this man Raymond shrugged at the absence of Melo, piled the team onto his back, and stomped around and through Heat defenders for what may very well have been his best game as a professional athlete. Ray's standout offerings were all those three-pointers-- he stuck one after another (6-10 in total) directly in the eyes of Heat defenders-- but that wasn't all. Ray packed his fanciest dribbles for the Miami visit, using picks to draw mismatches, then beguiling bigger defenders into reaching and grabbing while he scuttled into the paint to finish, find Tyson Chandler, or kick to the perimeter.
- ...and oh, that Tyson Chandler. The good giant did such admirable work bulling for position, sealing, catching passes in traffic, and withstanding bunches of slaps around the rim. Well, that or Felton put the passes up high where only Tyson could reach them and he hammered dunks down with bloodcurdling vengeance. I swear Chandler pulled down more offensive rebounds than the one for which ESPN gives him credit, but at the very least, his gravitational pull, box-outs, and tip-outs freed Knick shooters for so very much shooting.
- ...and oh, the shooters. The funny part is that J.R. Smith (who was pretty awful overall offensively, but an okay 3-8 from downtown) and Rasheed Wallace (0-6 from downtown) took and missed some bad ones, but the Knicks still managed that silly 40 percent clip while attempting nearly as many threes as they did twos. Shit, Steve Novak missed some easy ones, too, and that still happened. Novak hit four of nine and seven of thirteen jumpers overall, including a few dandies off pump fakes. Jason Kidd drilled three of eight. Pablo Prigioni and James White each chipped in one just to say they did. And for all of Felton's pull-up magic, a pleasing chunk of those makes came off perfect ball movement. The ball entered the paint, zipped out to the perimeter, then swung around the arc-- often back and forth between two adjacent buddies-- until it found an open man. I mean, there were plenty of quick, cocky makes early in the shot clock, but the passing was sharp all around. Nothing complicated, either, I don't think. I'm gonna re-watch the hell out of that game, but all I saw in the first viewing was a variety of pick-and-rolls and dribble-handoffs to gain Felton some separation, plus some simple drive-and-kicks to the perimeter. The Heat didn't feel like contesting anything, and the Knicks punished their an ineptitude like a good team should.
- Not bad defense, either. Not bad at all. The Knicks struggled most when they threw uneasy doubles at LeBron James, who easily guided passes through to Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem loitering unattended around the rim. Aside from that, they looked pretty sharp. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade got mostly straight-up coverage and each posted dismal (3-12 and 3-13, respectively) shooting performances. The Knicks let Miami take and miss jumpers, crowding the paint in transition and when Heatbros penetrated to deter easy baskets and force some loose passes. I thought they used fouls wisely, too.
- And the rebounding! Miami's not a good offensive rebounding team, and the Knicks kept it that way. Chandler, Sheed, and even Kurt Thomas (7 in 11 minutes!) did their work, but the big boost was from the guards. Pablo brazenly walked among the trees to snaggle an absurd six rebounds in his 13 minutes. J.R. grabbed 6 and Felton had 4. That's huge. A team like the Knicks that isn't looking to fast break can afford to have guards hang back and lend their buttocks to the box-out effort, and that was very much and very happily the case in Miami.
- 'Twas a crazy, run-filled third quarter, during which a tie ballooned to an eighteen-point Knick lead, then dwindled to eight, then settled at ten before the Knicks blew it open in the fourth. New York shot 8-13 from downtown and 7-12 from the line. I can't decide whether the third or fourth quarter was LOLier. I'd happily .GIF the entire second half and just have that loop on the inside of my eyelids for the rest of my life.
- Sheed's offense was pretty terrible. He didn't just miss threes, but ignored extra passes to Novak while doing so. His defense, though, was terrific. He was the anchor of some fast-rotating defensive lineups, walling off a lot of lanes to the rim and swatting one Joel Anthony shot with joy. Great job boxing out and hanging on to rebounds, too. Oh, and Sheed did this so I'm no longer mad at him for ignoring Novak.
- And J.R. was pretty cold himself. He did hit those three three-pointers, but couldn't get any of his iso step-back-y things to fall. Some of his reckless play in the late third nearly sunk the Knicks when the Heat were starting to build some momentum. (Of course it was Kidd who stifled that momentum with a big three to open the fourth quarter.)
- Ronnie Brewer put up very few numbers in 27 minutes, but credit him for standing his ground against so much reverse-gear pummeling from LeBron. Brewer gave up some buckets, but took the punishment and did his best to contain and deny without fouling.
- Hey, not bad, James White! 3-3 shooting on a couple corner jumpers and a nice diagonal lay-in is exactly what the Knicks needed from White in emergency duty.
- Here's a bullet point for Pablo Prigioni's driving lay-ins.
- And here's another for the look on some of the Heatbros' faces after Prigioni snuck in for those.
- Hard to say what the final nail was in a game like that one, but I'd probably pick Kidd's steal and outlet to an open J.R. dunk. I already knew, but that's when I really knew.
- Turnovers, man. 14 for the Heat, SEVEN for the Knicks. 11-7 on offensive rebounds, too. That'll do it. I can't stress enough that the Knicks took
25(!!!) 15(still a lot!!!) more shots than the Heat took. They could have shot poorly from downtown and still outscored Miami.
That's all I've got for you. I'm glad we've got a day off to review this one. I hope everyone had a good, hearty laugh tonight. It was a lot of fun experiencing that with y'all. Good night!
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