Written by William Lee
Both team’s superstar returned to action Sunday night from injury, Dwyane Wade with a strained left hamstring, and Carmelo Anthony from back spasms.
Both teams were inept on offense in the first quarter, Heat shot 27.3% while the Knicks shot 33.3%. However the Heat got to the line, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. Miami who are sixth in league in stealing with 8.3 steals per game, took advantage of New York’s sloppy play early on, getting five steals alone in the first quarter. Amare Stoudemire came off the bench and his energy really kept the Knicks in the game, making three straight baskets once inserted. Stoudemire finished the game with a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. New York only trailed 21-17 after the opening quarter.
James Ennis, a rookie forward from Long Beach State went berserk, personally responsible for a 10-2 run to start the second quarter. Ennis showed off all his offensive skills, first a pull up mid-range jump shot, then a three-pointer, before finally getting free to the rim for a slam dunk. Then he would give a helping hand, setting up Josh McRoberts for a wide open three. Just like that New York saw themselves down 34-21 four minutes into the second quarter.
New York continued their ineptitude in the second quarter, dropping down to 25.9%. Anthony in particular looked visibly irrigated and was forcing shots. In the heat of the moment Anthony got himself a foolish technical foul for arguing over a five second inbounds call with the referee. Iman Shumpert helped spark a late comeback, cutting the deficit to single digits by halftime 34-42. Shumpert stole the inbound pass and jammed it home, he scored six of the final eleven points in the quarter for New York.
After a horrible shooting performance in the first half from both teams, the action picked up in the third quarter with both teams making over half their attempts from the field. Anthony got it going in the third quarter, scoring ten of his game high 31 points in the period. An 8-0 bridging from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth helped get New York within one possession 63-61.
Unfortunately for New York, for all the energy Shane Larkin brings, he isn’t in control most of the time, losing the ball in consecutive possessions. Larkin was all over the place, like the Tasmanian Devil. One play in particular completely shifted all the momentum to Miami, compounding his turnover plays. Larkin stole the ball, the ball moved around and eventually found him again for a wide open three to take the lead. The ball clanked off the rim, leading to a long rebound, which helped ignite a Heat fastbreak leading to a Wade pull up jumper.
From then on Wade made six straight baskets in the fourth quarter, putting a stop to any hope of a Knicks’ comeback. During the stretch the Heat went on a 14-6 run, pushing the lead to double digits 79-69 with 3:34 remaining in the game.
A couple of turnovers got New York back in the game, starting an 8-0 run. Jose Calderon showed why he was brought over in the summer trade, knocking down his shots with high percentage, and then setting up Anthony for two straight high percentage shots. After an Stoudemire tip in with 1:24 left in the game, New York got within one possession 77-79.
With Wade having the hot hand, Miami ran a pick-and-pop play with him and Chris Bosh. The defenders swarmed Wade, leaving Bosh for a wide open three. The ball bounced all around the rim, riming in and out…but rolled back in with Bosh’s shooter’s touch. Everyone in the arena could see what Anthony wanted to do on the ensuing possession, Anthony wanted to answer back with a three of his own as he sized up his opponent before taking the shot. The miss dashed any hopes of any magical ending, and the Heat sealed the game at the line, defeating the Knicks 86-79.