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Heat 106, Knicks 97: “No Frank or KP is just depressing”

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On a night when legends were cheered, and even the Heat, these Knicks were not.

Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

New York’s 106-97 loss to Miami Sunday night Flashed back (pun def intended) to the past. The haters and charlatans never forged in those fires look back on classic Knicks/Heat and call it ugly. Ugly? Y’all don’t know ugly.

Equally mystifying: many of us missed the memo about the world ending before March 30th, Miami’s next trip to Madison Square Garden. Because there were thousands of people in the stands, behind the mics, and on Twitter acting as if Dwyane Wade were playing his last game there. Even Carmelo Anthony made an appearance, and if you thought he was there to revisit Courtney Lee...LOL nah.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so here’s my Flash obituary: I’ll miss his midrange mastery. I’ll miss the only man I’d rank ahead of Michael Jordan as the greatest shot-blocking guard of my lifetime. I won’t miss the HGH cheeks. I won’t miss having to force myself to remember the “y” before “a” in his name every. Single. Time.

After Wade checked in a shockingly loud “Let’s Go Heat!” chant erupted. He hit a three and the plebeians were sated. How is it the Heat have such a shitty home crowd but this magnitude of presence in an away arena?

Reminding us all there’s still such thing as the future, Frank Ntilikina turned in a smart first quarter: six points, three assists, a crisp off-the-dribble corner J and a pretty clock-running-down floater late in the frame.

The Knicks were looking good much of the first half. Not looking good: Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. got out on a break and went down with a gruesome knee injury. I immediately thought “Season-ending. Career-threatening.” Still waiting on the final word.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was cooking and a headbanded Damyean Dotson was reminding us why we wonder why he doesn’t play more. A scrumptious defense-to-offense sequence that began with a miss by Mitch from Dazed And Confused ended with the Knicks up seven.

A Mario Hezonja and-one pushed the lead to nine, where it’d peak. Right after that, Flash flashed back to his past.

The first half ended with the Knicks up six. It also ended the Ntilikina portion of the evening. Frank strained his groin and did not return. Trey Burke did not strain his groin, and did return, starting in the second half, and did this.

In a season of lows, the third quarter was the Mariana Trench. A 7-0 Heat run to open things led David Fizdale to call a timeout that didn’t stop the hemorrhaging. Justise Winslow continued his improved play this season, swishing jumpers with an ease and purity that should give anyone cynical of Ntilikina or Emmanuel Mudiay’s futures pause. Putting the “tank” in “cantankerous”: Hassan Whiteside. The mercurial Miami mainstay dunked on Mitchell Robinson and sorta tossed him off after like you do to your luggage when you finally get to your hotel.

Robinson’s arm did find Whiteside’s face on the contest, but you know what? Robinson could club Whiteside 100 times and it still wouldn’t deliver justice for what P.J. Brown did to Charlie Ward and what David Stern did to the Knicks in 1997. So go eat ‘bows, Hassan.

Wayne Ellington (technically OAKAAKUYOAK) hit a free-throw after a Knick defensive three-second violation, then a three on the ensuing possession to put the Heat up 74-66. A Winslow bucket made it 76-66. A Wade running hook made it 78-66. The Knicks scored, then a Dion Waiters three pushed the lead to 13. Miami outscored New York 29-12 in the third quarter. That wasn’t even the worst of it. A “We Want Kanter” chant broke out. Like, loudly. Who does that? It’s either Miami fans trolling the Knicks or Net fans who took the train to escape Brooklyn’s mustaches, mason jars and ironically sincere smug sense of self-satisfaction.

The fourth didn’t start any better.

30 seconds later Wade found Adebayo again; again Fiz called an early TO. This time, there was a response. Dotson drew a foul on Wade on a three-pointer; he only hit one free throw, but hit his next three to cut the deficit to eight. A wild back-and-forth sequence ended with Dotson finding Robinson for an alley-oop, which wasn’t even the best alley-oop of the quarter.

An 8-0 run to tie the game at 90 was capped by Dotson pushing alone on the break against two Heat, then finding Hardaway alone behind the action and the arc for three. That was as good as it’d get. The rest of the game was all Heat.

With the Knicks defending and the shot clock winding down, Robinson blitzed a pick, leaving Whiteside down low with only Burke between him and the hoop. Two points. An ill-advised jump-pass by Dotson led to a breakway for Ellington. Two points. Ellington his a three. Ellington hit another three. After a scoreless first half, he scored 19 in the second. He didn’t live in the past; he kept at it until things turned around. May we all be Wayne Ellington.

Notes:

  • Quite the eruption when Melo was shown after a clip honoring his 62-point game of yesteryear. Ain’t too proud to admit I rewound it a half-dozen times.
  • No KP. No Luke Kornet. No Mudiay. Now no Frank, at least for tonight.
  • I need a stat that measures percentage of shots altered. It’s remarkable how devastating Robinson already is in this area, without having played organized ball since freaking high school. Even legends are learning: don’t test this man.
  • Seven Heat in double-figures. And yet, they play such ugly basketball. Check James Naismith’s coffin tomorrow morning. There’ll be scratch marks on the inside.
  • If the Knicks re-sign Noah Vonleh, I hope he spends his offseason growing comfortable putting up shots. Ntilikina and Hardaway both had sequences where they drove and kicked back to him, wide open, and he passed on the shot to dribble into nothingness. Vonleh’s shooting a career-high 39% from distance. Shoot ‘em if you got ‘em.
  • The quality of LeBron James I enjoy the most is his intelligence. He not only makes the right decision over and over and over again, but the best decision. Early in his career he was criticized for passing up some shot opportunities to pass to an open teammate. Morons. I’m struck by how often Ntilikina makes the right decision and passes to a teammate who can’t or won’t do anything with it. Imagine Ntilikina flew to England, ran out on the pitch at Anfield during a Liverpool game, picked up the soccer ball and passed it to Mo Salah. To catch. Imagine Salah being all “WTF?” That’s what the Knicks sometimes look like.
  • Cleveland won.
  • Lance Thomas switched on Josh Richardson off a pick and hounded him like a junkyard dog for eight seconds. This wasn’t even midway through the first and it’s the awful Knicks and the not-not-awful Lance Thomas and yet the crowd was into it and cheered him and the ink today will go to the invasion of Heat fans who bought cheap tickets from New Yorkers whose rent is too damn high but yeah Knick fans really are the best fans in the NBA.
  • Kevin Knox appears to have hit the wall. After netting 31 in Philadelphia he’s failed to reach double-digits in four of five games since, making just 13 of 51 shots. Knox’s floater, thankfully, is still going strong.
  • Truth:
  • THJ & Wade exchanged jerseys afterward. These little human moments add flavor to a season that basketball-wise is like funneling prison oatmeal.
  • No Kanter tonight. Three straight DNPs. It’s almost like a defensive sieve with a selfish attitude is, for some reason, not being rewarded for those qualities. Tanking makes for strange bedfellows, apparently.

I’m a Knick fan, but as a fan and writer I’ve no interest in being a homer. I think people who complain about the refs having it in for the Knicks either never got to watch Patrick Ewing play or are paranoids. Expecting the national media to not dump on a franchise that’s been a joke for, like, decades is delusional. The press around the L.A. Clippers turned on a dime the moment they started winning with regularity. But I will say it’s been conspicuously weird of late seeing writers who’ve covered the Knicks or cover them now seeming to get personal in their criticisms, or whose criticism seems strikingly divorced from reality. Stefan Bondy has gone completely off the radar, and I don’t know what Beck is getting at here.

  • Heard on MSG in the first half: “If you start the wave you should have your ticket revoked.” MIKE BREEN, FROM THE TOP ROPE! BANG!
  • Guess who else was at the game?

Quoth C4RM370 4NTHONY: “...no Frank or KP is just depressing.” Got that right. Next game is tonight in Charlotte. Jonathan Schulman’s preview is already up! Come for the Kemba. Stay for...well, whatever. Do what you gotta do, fam.