The Knicks were competitive for about two and half quarters in Miami, which is about two and a half quarters more than most thought they would be. Unfortunately, that doesn’t count as a win.
Behind the masked man, the Heat won their sixth straight game, pushing the Knicks losing streak up to four. New York closed the game with a lineup of Toure’ Murry, Tim Hardaway Jr, Shannon Brown, Earl Clark, and Jeremy Tyler, and at one point TNT dumped the game to cut to the ending of the triple-overtime thriller between the Raptors and Wizards. Enough said.
Miami actually had a 16-point lead in the second quarter, but the Knicks uncharacteristcally fought back. They cut it to as little as two in the third quarter, and the deficit was only eight when the the dynamic defensive duo of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar’e Stoudemire entered the game together. That’s when Miami went on an 24-4 run to put the contest away for good.
The Heat pushed it in transition every chance they got, and after awhile, it became too much to handle for the Knicks. They forced their pace on New York knowing that the Knicks and their notoriously sssssllllllllooooooowwww possessions wouldn’t return the favor. Even Chris Bosh joined the party at one point, zooming from coast-to-coast despite looking as awkward as ever in doing so. He blew the layup, but still contributed to the mind game.
LeBron James led the way with 31 points, but if you want to take a positive away from the game, the Knicks held him to just four rebounds and four assists. He clearly wasn’t hampered by the black mask he was rocking, which for the record, is way more stylish than J.R. Smith’s transparent one. LeBron’s mask lit the Twitter world on fire, with users photoshopping him into pictures of everything from Zorro to Phantom of the Opera. It was funny for awhile, but if I hear one more Lebron James mask or Raymond Felton gun joke, I’m going to vomit.
Speaking of which, Felton didn’t play bad for someone who denies being distracted despite having every reason to be. He stat line was atrocious, just two points and five assists on 1-7 shooting, but he helped lead the Knicks in that second quarter comeback with relentless penetration and, wait for it, activity on defense. Felton still couldn’t keep his man in front of him, but he was able to get his hands in the passing lanes, to the tune of three steals.
Carmelo Anthony ended with 29 points, and probably would have gotten his usual 40-plus if his services would have been needed to finish out the game. He had 24 points by halftime, and as always, was the one and only offensive option that had it going. Maybe the Knicks should just let him walk this summer. All this team carrying is going to lead to back issues at some point down the line.
Hardaway Jr. had what was perhaps his worst game as a pro. He shot just 2-15 from the floor, and ended with a plus/minus of a team-low -35. I’ve brought this up before, but if you put a number eight on his uniform, fans would be complaining about his shot selection. Being young doesn’t make it excusable. Let’s just hope he isn’t forming bad habits in his rookie season. Teams are now exploiting Hardaway’s defensive deficiencies, so it’s up to him to expand his game. Stoudemire didn’t trail far behind in the plus/minus department, ending with a -30. Those two just simply can’t share the floor together for an extended period of time.
Shannon Brown and Earl Clark both made their Knicks debuts, which would be much more promising if it were 2009. Clark finished with two points and three rebounds in close to six minutes of garbage time, and both Brown and Greg Oden threw down dunks, which pretty much sums up how the night went.
The Knicks get back at it tomorrow at The Garden against Golden State. Last time Steph Curry was in The Garden, he put up a mesmerizing 54-point performance, so it’ll be interesting to see what he has in store for fans this time around. As always, TOK will have you covered.