LeBron Proves Too Much For Knicks In Heat Win

Published on: 3rd March, 2013

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LeBron Proves Too Much For Knicks In Heat Win  | read this item

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New York — This was a showdown game between the top two teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The defending champion Miami Heat and the New York Knickerbockers, meeting at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden, on national television. The Heat, on a 12-game winning streak and taking on the look and feel of a team headed for its second championship in succession. But, a confident Knicks team, themselves on a three-game winning streak looking to burst Miami’s bubble and prove something to themselves and to the league.

Just the kind of juicy matchup David Stern always dreams about.

The Knicks, having already beaten the Heat twice this season, each time by 20-points, wanted to make a statement today that continued on that stream of success against their biggest conference rivals. The Heat wanted to put an end to the Knicks’ growing confidence in these matchup games.

In the end, it was Miami that squashed the Knicks when it counted and broke the hearts of the 19,033 fans who filled this arena, today.

The final score, 99-93, didn’t reflect the Heat’s dominance when the game was on the line, particularly in the fourth quarter. How could a six-point win possibly indicate how one club imposed its will on another? Or, how one superstar, LeBron James, could impose his will on the game while the Knicks superstar, Carmelo Anthony, could only acquiesce to James’ greatness when it was winning time.

Greatness is measured in many ways but in the world of sports, ultimate greatness goes hand-in-hand with winning games and championships. Therein lies the difference between James and Anthony.

James had 12-points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for the Heat. He ended up with less points (29) than Anthony (32) but he did what was necessary when it was necessary.

In contrast, Anthony did what he’s very good at doing. He added to his NBA lead in first-quarter points by scoring 17 today in the opening quarter but, he shot just 5 of 14 and attempted only five free throws over the next three quarters.

Upon further inspection, all one need do is to look at the game in the second half. After the Knicks had run off to a 59-45 halftime lead, with everything in their arsenal operating efficiently, the Heat came out of halftime as if they had decided, back in their locker room, to stop fiddling with these Knicks. All the Heat did was to hold the Knicks to just 34-points in the second half. They absolutely stifled them with their defense and rebounding and their boxing out, all the little things you wouldn’t expect from a team of supremely well-paid players like James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh but, that’s what separates them from the rest of the league. They are a team of grinders who like doing the dirty work, then, they clear out for James or Wade to operate with the ball in their hands, usually a good place for the ball to be.

On the other hand, the Knicks, a veteran team that should know better, couldn’t come up with answers on the offensive side of the ball. The reason for that lies less with Anthony’s failings than with the failings of his teammates.

Opposing teams have figured out that stopping Anthony will go a long way towards beating the Knicks. When Anthony is denied the ball or, is double-teamed, his job is to find an open man who can hit an easy, wide-open shot. The problem is, Anthony’s supporting cast is not striking fear in anyone’s heart, or in their defensive alignments.

J.R. Smith, the recipient of many of those open three passes was only able to convert on 3 of 14 from the three-point stripe, not a helpful number for Mike Woodson.

James ended up with 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while his compadre, Wade, added 20 points for the Heat.. Chris Bosh bounced back from a dismal first half to finish with 16 points.

But James shook off a third-quarter leg injury and was back in top form by the finish, putting it away by coming up with a steal and throwing down a dunk with 23 seconds left.

Jason Kidd emerged from a lengthy slump to finish with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Knicks. J.R. Smith had 13 points and 12 rebounds but shot 5 of 18 from the field.

The Heat matched their 14 straight wins during the 2004-05 season and finally beat one of their closest pursuers in the Eastern Conference after dropping their first four against the Knicks and Indiana Pacers.

James landed awkwardly when he was fouled trying to catch a lob pass in the third quarter and was trying to loosen his left knee or leg after. He looked fine in the closing minutes, making key plays on both ends of the floor.

Bosh tied it at 87 and Wade’s basket with 4:29 gave Miami the lead for good. James then blocked Tyson Chandler at the rim and hustled down the floor to put back a Miami miss, making it 91-87.

The Knicks twice were within two, but James scored on a drive the second time. Bosh followed with a jumper for a 97-91 advantage, and after two free throws by Raymond Felton, James ended the Knicks’ final hopes when he stepped in front of pass headed toward Anthony and broke in alone for the slam as Anthony hung his head near halfcourt.

The Knicks beat Miami here by 20 in their season opener and won again in Miami in early December by 20, even while playing without Anthony because of a cut on his finger that required stitches.

This looked headed for another blowout.

The Knicks then rattled off eight in a row late in the period, opening a 59-43 lead on a free throw by Iman Shumpert with 36 seconds to go. The only concern for the Knicks came when Anthony went to the locker room before the half ended after being hit in the ribs, but was back when the second half started.

Kidd would’ve been perfect in the period, but was credited with a shot attempt when he jumped to save a pass that was going out of bounds along the sideline and just heaved it toward the basket in one motion.

The Knicks’ two victories over the Heat came during their 18-5 start, when they seemed championship capable. But they had been just 17-15 since, falling into a tie for second with Indiana in the East, and were being frequently dismissed as a serious threat to the Heat.

Not by Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, though.

“We know that they’re a direct rival of ours right now and they’ve kicked our butt twice,” Spoelstra said before the game. “Tough in this building and despite what anybody said about them this year, or the struggles, perceived struggles that they may have had in the last few weeks, they’re the sixth-best team in the league, second in the East and they’ve had moments where they’ve beaten the best and have played as well as anybody in this league.”

They did again for half the game, but Miami’s a far different team now than it was in December.

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