Knicks Outlast Heat With Comeback Win in Miami
MIAMI -- The New York Knicks and their plentiful South Florida fans arrived Sunday at the AmericanAirlines Arena to face the Miami Heat in a playoff-like atmosphere. Hours later, they left satisfied, having earned a 91-86 win while erasing the memory of Friday's embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now, it's the Heat who must answer the critics after failing yet again to close out a tight game against a quality opponent.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra couldn't have been pleased with his team, and the look on his face after the game spoke volumes. Nevertheless, he expressed hope that his team will learn from these experiences.
"We will have our breakthrough," Spoelstra said. "As painful as this is right now, there will be a time that we'll be able to execute and win a game like this against a quality opponent going down the stretch. What you hope is that the pain of a game like this resonates enough to make a change, and that's what we need to do."
Heat Offense Halted by Knicks' Adjustments
The Knicks had no answer for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade early in the game, yielding clear paths straight down the lane and allowing the two superstars to attack at will. But the Knicks eventually made the proper adjustments by packing the paint and daring the Heat to hurt them from long distance.
The plan worked as the Heat converted only 6-of-22 3-point attempts, including a combined 0-for-8 from Eddie House, James Jones and Wade. After giving up 34 points in the first quarter alone, the Knicks allowed just 35 in the entire second half.
"We didn't even score in the last couple of minutes," said Heat forward Chris Bosh. "That can't happen against a good offensive team like that. You have to either increase the lead or stop them. They made some tough shots, but it all comes down to execution down the stretch."
James Falls Short at the End
With Wade notching a quiet 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting, James tried to win the game by himself with 10 seconds left and the Heat trailing by one. He was able to penetrate, but Carmelo Anthony covered him well and Amar'e Stoudemire swatted away his shot attempt at the rim. As Anthony later explained, the Knicks had a pretty good idea what the Heat wanted to run.
"We knew that LeBron or D-Wade was going to get it and try to iso," Anthony said. "I just wanted to play it straight up. Prior to that, (James) got a full steam ahead and got an easy layup. In the last play, I just wanted to stay in front of him and Amar'e did a great job with the weak-side block. It was something that we were talking about the whole game and it finally happened on that one play."
James made no excuses when explaining his decision to keep the ball in his hands for the potential game-winner. "(Stoudemire) is definitely a good weak-side shot-blocker, but I felt like I had enough room around Melo, just trying to get it off the glass, and he got a piece of it."
You Had to Be There
Just like the first game in Miami between these two teams, there was a huge crowd of Knicks fans cheering them on -- including their biggest celebrity fan. Filmmaker Spike Lee arrived extra early and took his place at courtside to watch his beloved team warm up. As fans cheered for Stoudemire while he was leaving the court to get ready for the game, he responded with a smile and a quick martial arts bow.
As a result of the mixed crowd, heavy boos were heard at one point as James took free throws late in the fourth quarter, although they were soon drowned out by cheering from the hometown fans when he subsequently sank them. And perhaps most confusing of all was the presence of a young man wearing a Boston Celtics jersey near courtside.
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