Knicks end streak of 8 straight losses to Heat, 98-90

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) — The New York Knicks have already surpassed their win total for all of last season, and the latest victory was especially sweet.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the Knicks shot 56 percent to snap a streak of eight consecutive losses to the Miami Heat, beating their rivals 98-90 Wednesday night.

Robin Lopez added a season-high 19 points for the Knicks, who won their third game in a row, and their second on the road in as many nights.

The Knicks (18-19) are way ahead of their pace a year ago, when they had the worst record in the Eastern Conference (17-65).

“We’re still trying to find our identity,” Anthony said. “These past three games we’ve shown something. And it wasn’t just me.”

Coach Derek Fisher liked what he saw.

“We were intense, but there was a relaxed look, as if we were in control of what we wanted to do,” Fisher said. “It takes a while to develop that, and it’s hard to keep that.”

Playing a team ranked second in the NBA in scoring defense, the Knicks found plenty of open shots – and made them. New York’s shooting percentage was the best by any team this season against the Heat, who came into the game allowing opponents to hit only 43 percent.

“They didn’t have an explosive offensive night,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “It was just very efficient.”

By contrast, the Heat shot 45 percent and went 2 for 17 from 3-point range. They were in danger of being blanked from beyond the arc for the first time in nearly four years until Chris Bosh hit a 3 with 3:22 left.

Bosh scored 28 points for the Southeast Division leaders, who fell to 11-12 against the Eastern Conference. Wade scored 18.

Hassan Whiteside, back in the starting lineup after missing one game with a sore right knee, had eight points and eight rebounds but was a minus-18.

“My knee was bothering me, but I still went out there and rebounded,” he said.

Anthony shot 9 for 12 and was a plus-19. In his first two games against Miami this season, Anthony shot 10 for 29 and totaled 32 points.

Derrick Williams led New York’s productive bench with 13 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

“When we play the way we should be playing, we can beat any team that’s out there,” Anthony said. “We’re showing these past couple of games. We just have to keep that.”

The Heat won their first two games against the Knicks this season by 17 and 19 points, but New York led for the entire second half, and the margin reached 15 points midway through the fourth quarter.

“You’ve played a team twice already, the third time they figure it out a little bit,” Wade said.

STREAK ENDS:

For the fourth time in as many tries this season, the Heat lost when attempting to extend a three-game winning streak. All of the streak-ending defeats have been by at least eight points.

“We’ll just have to try to do it again,” Wade said.

 

TIP-INS:

Heat: F Josh McRoberts missed his 15th consecutive game he has missed with a bruised right knee. … The Heat play 11 of their next 12 – and 14 of their next 16 -on the road. Starting Thursday night, they’re expected to spend 20 nights in hotels in a 22-night span, and 24 nights in a 29-night span.

“This is going to be our biggest challenge of the season,” Wade said.

Knicks: New York had lost 13 of its past 16 games in Miami.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.

As he chases record, LeBron says he has ‘no relationship’ with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
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Later this season, health permitting, LeBron James will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Kareem has said LeBron has earned it, but also has called out LeBron on COVID issues (something Abdul-Jabbar apologized for). Have the two legends started to build a relationship as LeBron marches toward the record? Not so much.

“No thoughts, no relationship.”

This question was asked of LeBron days after Abdul-Jabbar slammed former LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving in a Substack newsletter, calling him a “comical buffoon” and saying he is a poor role model. Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal proponent of getting the vaccine, Irving remains unvaccinated, and LeBron has posted on social media questioning the severity of the virus and the response. Plus, LeBron and Irving are friends, which could have sparked LeBron’s terse response (as could the fact he was ready to get out of the arena after a dull preseason game).

A week earlier at media day, LeBron had been kinder when discussing Abdul-Jabbar and chasing his record.

“And you know, obviously Kareem has had his differences, with some of my views and some of the things that I do. But listen, at the end of the day, to be able to be right in the same breath as a guy to wear the same [Lakers] uniform, a guy that was a staple of this franchise along with Magic and Big Game [James Worthy] over there for so many years, especially in the 80s, and a guy that does a lot off the floor as well,” LeBron said. “I think it’s just super duper dope for myself to be even in that conversation.”

Abdul-Jabbar has been more of a public persona in recent years, both around the game of basketball and discussing social justice issues through his writings. The NBA named its new social justice award after him. With that has come new relationships around the league.

One of those is not with LeBron. Will Abdul-Jabbar be in the building when LeBron does break the record?

We’ve got months for this relationship to evolve — if it does — before that big day.

 

Watch Zion Williamson score 13 in return to court for Pelicans

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Zion Williamson is back.

He certainly looked in better shape and flashed his insane explosiveness on his way to 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes Tuesday night against the Bulls, his first game after missing all of last season following foot surgery.

There was some rust, and the Pelicans are wisely bringing him along slowly and not breaking out the entire playbook for a preseason game, but in the moments we saw Zion looked like he was all the way back.

The questions now are can he sustain it, and how to the Pelicans mesh him with other scoring options in CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.

And maybe we shouldn’t leave rookie Dyson Daniels off that list, he looked good in his first NBA preseason game.

The Pelicans are one of the most intriguing teams this season, a team that made the playoffs last season with a push after McCollum arrived, and now they add the elite interior scoring and athleticism of Zion to Ingram’s outside shot and slashing, not to mention and a solid core of role players. This team has top six potential if it can get stops. But in a deep West, nothing will be easy.