I'm so excited, man. The Heat had the Knicks figured out. I watched them dismember these same Knicks twice just under 2 months ago, and it seemed such a sure thing that New York would never get a win against them this season.
So yeah, even after two terrific wins against the Hawks, that was stunning. With remarkably little drama, the Knicks stepped into American Airlines Arena, protected their basket, and filled up the other one for 48 minutes. They never blew the game open, but they never really let the Heat threaten in the second half. Mike Breen never got to do his Concerned Here-We-Go-Again voice. It was just Carmelo Anthony sinking tough shots and making savvy passes, unflapped by Miami's extremely flappy help defense. It was Robin Lopez and Kristaps Porzingis walling off the rim and orbiting around one another in the offensive paint. It was Jose Calderon taking to heart the directives that he be more aggressive. It was Derrick Williams, Lance Thomas, and Langston Galloway making plays out of thin air to help the bench units tread water. It was Derek Fisher managing all of the above without burning anyone or blowing a healthy lead.
What an absolutely outstanding game. I've been hype-shivering for like an hour. Let's look at some things!
Aggressive Jose Calderon doesn't just mean shooting. It also means prodding lanes and using open space -- getting the ball where it's supposed to be:
The absolute best thing the Knicks can do -- bench in particular -- is push off misses and get easy buckets. There's always secondary action if the defense gets back, but this is the most delicious by far:
Melo passing? You know Melo was passing. The Heat guard him better than pretty much everyone in the league (except for New York's next opponent, maybe), and he took that in stride to pass out of help, or just make stuff happen in the open court:
Melo's passing has been terrific over the last couple of weeks pic.twitter.com/kFD0CMnx0C— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 7, 2016
Plus a dazzling 9-12 on some very, very tough shots:
Utilizing a pick and driving to the basket >>>>> ISO and settling for a contested jumper pic.twitter.com/8KXy0ZNj6o— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 7, 2016
Lopez had a really special offensive game, scoring 19 points on 12 shots of all kinds. He just chewed Hassan Whiteside's stupid pouty face off:
In between these two monstrous blocks, Kristaps missed a dunk that would have burned down the entire city of Miami had it gone down:
He also got his own self dunked on a few times, and I'm certain he did not care. This was as pissed off and aggressive as we've seen Porzingis, and it was beautiful. He didn't even play that well and I still feel so verklempt.
Spectacular game. Spectacular 3 games, really. Keep this in mind, friends. There have been moments this season when the Knicks got us down, and there will be moments again when the Knicks get us down. They have this inside them, and it's a whooooole lot of fun when they let it out. Recap tonight, much more tomorrow.