On the second half of a road back-to-back against competitive southern squads, the Knicks again staked an early lead and held on with a rare combination of offensive consistency, patience on both ends, and attention to detail. Behind particularly stellar performances from Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez, who played his best game as a Knick, the Heat were unable to get going early or string together many competent stretches. Despite several highlight plays, including two posterizations of Kristaps Porzingis, the Heat could not tally more than 21 points in a quarter until the fourth, when the points held helium weight.
Carmelo Anthony pieced together his second consecutive subtly masterful performance, pacing the offense perfectly with whip-quick passing and great decision making. Robin Lopez opened up the game with a purpose and did not relent throughout, setting ironside screens and opening up the offense with his post operation, and the two combined to form a potent combination that surpassed the contributions of hall-of-fame bound champions Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
I love Robin Lopez’s moves because it looks like he’s exaggerating them as an example of how a drill is supposed to look before it’s run.— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) January 7, 2016
Lately, when Anthony checks into the game it feels as though stability immediately increases. Throughout his career, particularly with the Knicks, Anthony has been known as an otherworldly talent offensively with the tools to contribute defensively with increased effort. Rarely has he played with such patience, with himself and his teammates, on both ends of the floor. It has empowered his teammates on each end, and it is legitimately jarring to watch.
Kristaps Porzingis could not get it going in the first half, but showed up in the latter two quarters with his trademark effort. After committing two early fouls, necessitating a short and unsuccessful Kyle O'Quinn stint, Porzingis finished with 12 points, including six from the free throw line, and two blocks, including one delicious swat on a Dwyane wade layup attempt.
Although Robin Lopez outperformed him for one of only a handful of times this season, that is not an indictment of Porzingis as much as it is a statement on Lopez's value on both ends. 19 points, 3 offensive boards (all with putbacks), and two huge blocks, and that does not begin to describe Lopez's positive impact.
Derrick Williams also contributed in to the victory in his own special way, tallying 13 points, 8 rebounds, and one steal he immediately traded in for a dunk on the other end. He hit a three pointer with the offense stalled and the shot clock running down, and he immediately corrected one of his own turnovers in the third quarter by throwing down an alley-oop pass from Lance Thomas.
Tyler Johnson played 21 minutes for the Heat, scoring eight points on 4 of 6 shooting. It felt like Tyler Johnson played 39 minutes for the Heat, scoring 26 points on 13 of 6 shooting. Dwyane Wade was excellent, and Chris Bosh was even better, but the Heat couldn't find enough contributions from other players to make a difference. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside were -15 and -18 in their time on the court, respectively, and Justise Winslow didn't help a lick.
The Knicks had lost eight in a row against Miami until tonight, and if you've been following the Knicks since 2003, you know how good it feels to beat Dwyane Wade. Your bumbling, fumbling, stumbling New York Knickerbockers are now a ripe 15-3 after bringing a lead into the fourth quarter, they have won more games than they did in 82 tries last season, and have a brand spanking new dangerous look about them. Let's hope they can take this progress into their tilt against San Antonio on Friday, whatever the hell that could possibly entail, and let's hope MJ20's quote comes true.