The New York Knicks looked like the November version of themselves for long stretches of today’s game against the Miami Heat, particularly in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately, they faded down the stretch and didn’t have enough firepower to prevent LeBron James and the Miami Heat from extending their winning streak to 14 games, losing 99-93.
The Knicks weren’t overmatched and they didn’t play with a lack of confidence but there were a few troubling trends today. The fourth quarter defense, rebounding and decision making on offense was inconsistent and generally very poor. Carmelo Anthony (32 points, 9-19 from the field) got quiet down the stretch while being shadowed by James and nobody was able to step up to carry the load offensively. Anthony needs to be better and more assertive in those moments without question but the Knicks can’t have JR Smith (13 points, 12 rebounds) jacking up transition threes when they need to set up the offense or Raymond Felton dribbling the ball off his foot.
The Knicks wasted Jason Kidd finally finding his shooting stroke, as he buried four 3 pointers and finished with 14 points. Yet, the rest of the supporting cast was disappointing. Steve Novak missed three wide open threes and had zero points, Felton had another discouraging offensive game with only 9 points, and Iman Shumpert could only add 3 points in 21 minutes. James White was completely overwhelmed in his time out there and could have his streak in the starting rotation end at 2 games.
Today wasn’t a disaster for the Knicks as we saw the needed elevation of their game to pace with Miami. It was the way they closed that was a let-down. There is no time to hang their heads with a quick turnaround in Cleveland tomorrow and a game in Detroit on Wednesday. These are two games the Knicks cannot afford to let slip away with Oklahoma City coming to the Garden on Thursday night and then Utah in town on Saturday. The Knicks aren’t catching the Heat for the number one seed but can still continue to build their Atlantic Division lead over the slumping Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks will get another crack at the Heat on April 2nd in Miami, where they will look to clinch a season series victory 3-1.