(Photo Credit: Nathaniel Butler)
The Miami HEAT fell 102-92 to the New York Knicks Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks knocked down eight three-pointers in the second half to erase an early deficit and pull away from the HEAT.
Impact Performance of the Night: Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points, but was Iman Shumpert in the second half that was the spark for the Knicks. Shumpert He knocked down four three-pointers in the second half, adding instant offense to the Knicks who struggled to score in the first half. Three of Shumpert’s threes came in the third quarter when the Knicks turned a deficit into a lead that they would not relinquish.
The Deciding Run: With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, the HEAT took a 69-66 lead on Dwyane Wade jumper. Andrea Bargnani responded two possessions later and the Knicks took off. Over the next five minutes of game action, the Knicks ripped off a 16-2 run, taking an 82-71 lead on an Amar’e Stoudemire layup. The HEAT were able to cut into the lead a couple of times, but the Knicks responded at every opportunity. That first 11-point lead would prove to be enough for the Knicks.
Play of the Game: Ray Allen completed a rare four-point play with 7:24 left in the game to inch the HEAT closer to the Knicks. The play cut the HEAT deficit from nine to five and Miami was poised to make a run. Instead, Raymond Felton hit Iman Shumpert with a pass and Shumpert drilled a three, pushing the lead back to eight. It was a back-breaker for Miami, as they never got closer than six points again. Shumpert’s shooting in the second half really played pivotal role in the Knicks win.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 104.3; Defensive Efficiency: 118.1
Trend to Watch: Entering the night, the HEAT were forcing turnovers at the highest rate in the NBA, and at the highest rate in the last 10+ seasons. Against the Knicks, they forced just 10 all game long. This affected both the offense and the defense. This defense, more than most, relies on turnovers to keep opponents off the scoreboard. The HEAT are built differently than most teams and as such approach defense differently. Tonight, Miami played a New York team that doesn’t turn the ball over often. Still, the HEAT look to cause more chaos than they did tonight. In the first half, the HEAT had 12 fastbreak points. In the second half, they scored just two. It’s hard to run off of misses when an opponent makes a conscious effort to get back. So, even when the HEAT did get stops, they couldn’t get out on the break. Last season, when the defense suffered, it was often because they couldn’t generate turnovers. Tonight, there were other factors involved as well, but the lack of turnover was a major issue. This isn’t something the HEAT have struggled with for long stretches at a time, so a quick correction is expected.
The Takeaway: Losses like this happen. The Knicks got hot from deep in the second half and pulled away. They hit 8-of-14 threes in the half after making just 1-of-10 in the first. A number of the makes were contested and/or off the dribble, so it’s hard to know how much more the HEAT defense could have done. Still, interior rotations were a step slow leading to dunks and layups for Knicks big men and the defense failed to turn the Knicks over. On the other end of the court, Miami struggled with bouts of stagnation. The ball stuck on a number of possessions and as a result the HEAT had to put up jumpers late in the shot clock. The ball movement that we saw in the second half of the New Orleans game wasn’t there for the HEAT and it cost them. We see a handful of games like this every season –we saw a couple of them against the Knicks last season—and it’s nothing to be overly concerned with. The HEAT are a better free throw shooting team than they exhibited tonight and are a better defensive team than the numbers will show. The good news is with tomorrow’s game in Brooklyn, there’s an immediate chance to put the loss in the rearview mirror.
Notes: LeBron James led the HEAT with 32 points, six assists and five rebounds. Dwyane Wade added 23 points. Shane Battier and Greg Oden were inactive.