Talk about a turnaround. From losing to the Cavaliers to beating the Heat, welcome to the Carmelo Anthony era.
Carmelo and Amar’e did the rest. Stoudemire struggled mightily in the first half against Chris Bosh, fought to a stand-still in the third, then took over in the fourth. It was his block — not his scoring, his block — on LeBron James that sealed it. It was Anthony forcing James into a maladjusted shot that enabled the block, not Melo’s stroke. Though both had it going on the offensive end as well. Stoudemire and Anthony combined to shoot 18-36 from the field, and they’ll take that any day of the week. The Big 2 are going to get their points, it just depends on whether they’re going to get them efficiently or not.
Meanwhile, the Heat?
We’ll keep asking until we’re blue in the face or they’re blown out of the playoffs. What’s it going to take for this team to play with intensity and focus? For as good as they would look early in both halves, they finished terribly, unable to get on the same page, unable to get the Big 3 involved, and unable to get the win against a playoff team. That’s losses to Boston, Chicago, and New York in the month of February. And March? March brings a murderer’s row with Orlando, San Antonio, the Lakers, Chicago, Portland, Atlanta and the Thunder all in the same month. The Heat are running out of chances for statement games, and instead seem to wilt in the biggest moments. They have their win over the Lakers on Christmas. That was nice. And they have two wins over the Magic. But other than that, the Heat have struggled with statement games.
For as far back as the Knicks are in the playoff race, the Heat allowed them to make one tonight, by simply focusing and executing. The Heat have proven time and time again this year that if you press, they’ll simply fall apart. If you withstand the firepower, you can overcome them on the ground. The Knicks took the best of what the Heat could give. Then they returned the favor. The result?
The whole world has seen how far behind the Celtics the Heat are. After tonight they’ll be wondering how far behind the Heat the Knicks are.
- The biggest question when Melo was acquired was how he would fit into Mike D’s system, because that would determine how he fits in with Stoudemire. Instead, Anthony is integrating himself with Amar’e, working off of him in double-post sets at the elbow and block, and using it to free himself . D’Antoni has shown no impulse in trying to make Anthony into a part of his system, but instead is willing to let him use his unique talents to integrate those into the flow of the offense.
- Moderate pace (95) tonight, which is higher but not super-high, especially for what these two teams are capable of.
- How bad was the offense tonight for both teams, in terms of shooting? The Heat shot the best from the field at 43%. They lost.
- The Knicks do not have a legitimate center. So Joel Anthony going -17 is pretty horrific.
- Mario Chalmers had zero assists and 2 turnovers. Starting point guard, that.
- Stoudemire and Anthony combined for 19 boards. It’s been a question for a long time, but those two are holding up their end of the bargain on the glass.