Miami Heat forward James reacts after his second quarter dunk against the New York Knicks during Game 2 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff in Miami

New York fights harder, plays better, but Heat still win, up 2-0

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Carmelo Anthony played better, dropping 30 in Game 2. Tyson Chandler was back to being himself after having the flu and was far more aggressive at both ends. He had a real impact on the game.

It didn’t matter. The Miami Heat led most of the game, took charge when LeBron James went on a personal run in the third quarter, and went on to win 104-94. The Heat are now up 2-0 in the first-round playoff series as it heads back to New York.

The Knicks need to treat Game 3 Thursday as a must win because if they go down 3-0 it’s all but over.

And it may be tough to win Game 3 without Amare Stoudemire, who hurt his left hand punching a glass-encased fire extinguisher after the game. Not smart. But it kind of fits in with how this series has gone for the Knicks. Stoudemire’s status for Game 3 is unknown.

The Heat led from the start. With Iman Shumpert out due to a torn ACL, Dwyane Wade was able to establish him self early and attack in the paint. He helped get the Heat off early and finished with 25.

But these Knicks were more aggressive than in Game 1 — they ran more pick-and-roll so the defense couldn’t focus on just Anthony. Chandler had a monster putback in the second. Anthony seemed to have his way with Shane Battier on him, they ran other sets to counter the Heat’s fronting of Anthony. ‘Melo tried to shoot the Knicks to a win.

The problem is that is not going to work. Maybe once in a seven game series, but the Heat’s defense is too quick, too athletic, you can’t just rely on one guy against them. The Knicks are not sharing the ball enough, they are taking a lot of jumpers while the Heat get points in the paint. Right now, the Knicks are strictly the ‘Melo show.

The Heat have other guys. LeBron had 19 points but was key in the third quarter when the Heat pulled away. After Game 1 the Knicks brought double teams and tried to take the ball out of his hands, and it sort of worked. Well, until the third quarter when he just attacked anyway and couldn’t be stopped.

Chris Bosh also had a better game as well, including the dagger. He had 21 points but just three rebounds.

The Knicks need more from everyone else. They need better and more consistent defense. They need J.R. Smith to make plays on the pick and roll and get hot shooting. They need Steve Novak to score and Landry Fields to stop hesitating when the ball gets swung to him. They need everything to go right — their margin for error against the Heat is small.

They need it all to come together back home Thursday night for Game 3. It’s must win for them.

Rumor: Greg Monroe would like to be traded to New Orleans

Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe, center, drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca, left, and guard Tyreke Evans, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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If you’re going to bet on an NBA player likely to be moved before the start of the NBA season — or at least by the deadline — Bucks’ big man Greg Monroe would be a good choice. It’s no secret he is on the trade block, the Bucks just aren’t finding a team making an offering to their liking.

What would Monroe like?

He probably wants to end up in New Orleans, ESPN’s Marc Stein said on the Lowe Post podcast.

Which makes a ton of sense — he was born in New Orleans, he wants to go home. The two sides have talked about a deal multiple times in the past, but nothing got done.

The problem is the Bucks are only getting rock-bottom offers for Monroe. On the upside, he’s an efficient offensive NBA big who got the Bucks 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last season. However, he’s a defensive liability who does not protect the rim, plus he’s a $17 million rental next season (he can and likely will opt out in the summer of 2017). Even teams that could use a scoring big are not going to give up much quality in a trade for a rental like Monroe.

The Pelicans already have Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca as traditional fives, and they should play Anthony Davis there more anyway. Roster wise, the Pelicans would need to make some other moves for this deal to make sense.

But eventually, the Bucks will find an offer they are willing to take.

Nets’ Greivis Vasquez pulls out of Olympics for Venezuela

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 11:  Greivis Vasquez #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks takes the court against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on November 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Bucks 103-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Venezuela is in its first Olympic basketball tournament in more than 20 years — they upset Canada and Argentina to win the FIBA Americas tournament last summer and earned the right to go to Rio.

But they are going to have to play there without the one NBA player on their roster. Greivis Vasquez, who had ankle surgery last December, announced he had to pull out, via the Nets.

If you want to know what this means for the Venezuelan team heading into Rio, well, they shot just 23.9 percent in an 80-45 loss to Team USA Friday night in Chicago — and that was by far the USA’s worst performance in the exhibition run-up to the Rio Games.

Vasquez should be getting decent minutes off the bench behind Jeremy Lin in Brooklyn this season. They need him healthy as the team tries to move from “god awful” to just plain “not good” next season.

Report: Monty Williams to accept role on Spurs coaching staff next season

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Another smart move by the Spurs.

Monty Williams is one of the better assistant coaches in the NBA right now, and he was available (remember he understandably left Oklahoma City last season after the tragic death of his wife). He’s part of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff with USA Basketball this summer — watch him in practices at age 44 and he’s a better defender plenty of players in the league — and he wanted to get back on the bench.

San Antonio has snapped him up, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.

The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front-office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.

One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.

Williams will get another shot in the big chair down the line. In the short term, this is a smart move — nothing looks better on a resume than “Spurs” around the league right now.

Team USA has sing-along on plane leaving Chicago. Well, except for ‘Melo.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during player intro duction prior to playing the China Men's National Team in a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Team USA had their “Tiny Dancer” moment.

Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.

Everyone was loving it… except for Carmelo Anthony, according to DeMar DeRozan.

Melo ain't having it…😂

A video posted by DeMar DeRozan (@demar_derozan) on