The Miami Heat entered last night’s game with the New York Knicks on pace to win 60 games while ranking fourth in the league in shooting percentage and second in three-point accuracy. The Knicks entered on pace to lose 60 and were dead-last in shooting. Since Pat Riley left New York for Miami in 1995, the Heat have had three head coaches. Mike Miller is the Knicks’ 14th in that time. The skill gap and culture gap between these organizations are chasms. What’d you think was gonna happen?
Miami led wire-to-wire and most of the night by 20+ points en route to a 129-114 48-minute noogie. There’s very little to say about this one. That’s not wholly true. There’s a lot of material, but it’s all along the same narrow spectrum: the Heat devastated, the Knicks enervated.
Seven Heat scored in double-figures; their only two players who didn’t make at least half their shots, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk, hit 42% from the field. Only two Knicks — Bobby Portis and Mitchell Robinson — made at least half their shots. The rest of the team shot 31%. The Heat missed just two of their first 11 free throws; the Knicks made just 3 of their first 11. The Heat shot better from beyond the arc than the Knicks did overall, plus New York started out just two of 21 from three.
This game was already a 20-point blowout in the first quarter. The home team’s first 20 baskets were all assisted. The road team changed point guards at halftime, with Elfrid Payton starting the third in place of Frank Ntilikina; it was like changing your socks during an earthquake. Payton’s first turnover in four games led to a Nunn breakway dunk. Heat up 25. Duncan Robinson hit a three. Heat up 26. Bam Adebayo made a pair of free throws. Heat up 28. Robinson hit another three. Heat up 29. Adebayo posting Payton led to an and-one. Heat up 32. Robinson hit another three. Heat up 33. Adebayo scored over Mitchell Robinson. Heat up 34.
Bored? Reading that paragraph is what watching this game was like. The Earth rotating around the Sun is more exciting than this one was. Seriously.
How Earth’s orbit around the Sun actually looks like if the Sun’s movement is considered. pic.twitter.com/A0Q174ILv3— Domenico Calia (@CaliaDomenico) December 19, 2019
- Re: Ntilikina’s second-half benching and not returning to action till the middle of the fourth: please submit your complaints to the Ghost of David Fizdale. Not saying Miller was wrong to do it. Just always struck by — not ignorant to — the different intensity levels we sometimes off-gas when reacting to one person doing something versus another doing the same.
- After a career night Tuesday vs. Atlanta, RJ Barrett had a tough one. Missed nine of ten shots, and missed many badly enough to count double. Barrett really should’ve been marked as shooting -4-of-10 from the field. Negative numbers would tell a truer tale.
- Early on, Kevin Knox drove to the basket twice and came away empty. Would he remain aggressive? Yes! A few minutes later, Knox drove to the paint and finished at the rim while drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but he made us proud.
- Also, no! That was Knox’s only basket until midway through the fourth.
- An Allonzo Trier sighting after missing the last 4 games and 14 of 18.
- A season-high 30 for Bobby Portis. After an eight-game span where he reached double figures just once, Mr. No Nickname has done so in five of his last eight.
- 18, 6 and 6 for Mitch tonight. Meaning 18 points, 6 fouls and the 5th time he’s fouled out this season.
- Goran Dragić returned after missing nine games due a groin injury. 18 and 8 assists for the Montague to OAKAAKUYOAK Sasha Vujačić’s Capulet.
- Payton set a Knick record notching his 29th consecutive assist without a turnover, surpassing Stephon Marbury, though Walt Frazier pointed out if they’d tracked that stat when he played he’d hold the record.
- Former Heat Jamal Mashburn was at the game tonight. Mashburn was a starter throughout the Knicks/Heat rivalry. The Bronx-born Cardinal Hayes product meant a lot to me as a kid whose family had left the area against our wishes and moved somewhere vocally anti-NYC. Nowadays Mashburn serves as an advisor to a cannabis company. That’s free publicity, Mash. Hook your boy up.
- Which will go down in Knick history as the more disastrous point-forward experiment: Don Nelson with Anthony Mason or David Fizdale with Julius Randle?
- On consecutive possessions, Randle drove at Kelly Olynyk in transition and Dragić went the other way against Ntilikina. In each case, a lefty drove at a righty and the defender bought into the lefty faking like they were gonna go right. They didn’t. It’s funny what a big deal something as small as dealing with off-hands is. Next time you eat out, hold your silverware with your off-hand. Then tell us how it went.
- By all that is holy, a man named Duncan Robinson has gotta play for the Spurs at some point.
- Robinson and fellow Heat starter Nunn were both undrafted; a third starter, Tyler Herro, went 13th. Meanwhile, the Knicks are lottery-bound for the fifth time in six seasons; a team like Orlando starts five first-round picks and three lottery picks and yet they’re sub-.500. It must be something to root for an organization where management trusts itself to hire the right people and put them (and leave them) in position to succeed. In the five full seasons since LeBron James left Miami, the team won just one playoff series. Most franchises would have fired Erik Spoelstra in that time.
- On the other hand, not too long ago Miami’s celebrated player development personnel included David Fizdale. I don’t even know what that means.
- It never stops hurting how close Pat Riley came to godfathering the Knicks instead of the Heat. MSG replayed Riley’s return to MSG after faxing his way to Miami, 24 years ago yesterday. I still remember the ugliness of the booing and him waving the crowd on to boo more. It was like seeing your divorced parents divorce-fight for the first time.
- How good are the Heat? They’re 12-1 at home despite the arena looking half-empty all night. MSG reported this was the Heat’s 432nd straight sellout. Go to hell.
- There’s been some healthy debate on this site about the relative value of keeping Marcus Morris, extending him this summer or trading him. For the keep/extend crowd: were you in favor of the Knicks signing Jimmy Butler last offseason? He’s a better player than Morris on both ends, and his red ass seems just as much a locker-room influence. But obviously he’s a more expensive proposition.
Quoth me, in contrast to the new feeling after the last game vs. Atlanta: “This is a familiar feeling.” If you missed this one, fear not: the Knicks host the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow and are as likely to lose as badly then as they did today.