It didn't take very long for the New York Knickerbockers to realize that they were not playing the Bobcats, Celtics, Lakers, or Cavaliers anymore. Those were the four teams the team easily defeated at home en route to their four game winning streak prior to their Super Bowl eve matchup against the Miami Heat. New York just needed to show up in those games to get the win because those teams are a combined 54 games under .500
The Knicks did show up for their showdown against the Miami Heat last night, but unfortunately that is not enough when your playing the defending NBA champions and the best player in the world. With a chance to make another big statement win against the Heat, the Knicks fell short of their latest measuring stick game with a 106-91 loss on Saturday night.
New York lost it's 28th game of the season which already match their total from last season, when they won the Atlantic Division title with a 54 wins.
"I know where we’re at, but as far as saying we’ve lost 28 games this year, we only lost 28 last year, this season and last season is no comparison," said Carmelo Anthony. "It’s a different year, a different team, and as long as we continue to get better, then we can make a push for the playoffs.”
Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points, but Shane Battier and the rest of the Miami heat took him out of his game with their defense. He struggled from the beginning of the game and could never get it going. He missed all three free throws after being fouled from three-point range and committed a season high with seven turnovers. The result was the end of New York's four game winning streak and a little bit of a reality check.
"Melo had one of those nights," Mike Woodson said. "I thought he played OK, but he had one of those nights where he just couldn’t make the play based off a bounce pass. "When they were doubling him, he just didn’t get the ball in the right spots."
Anthony had played some fantastic basketball since his record breaking 62 point performance last Friday night against the Bobcats, but was nearly that good against Miami. The last time these two teams played at the Garden, Battier did not play and the Knicks won by ten points. Battier was healthy enough to play this around and made things rough for Anthony.
"They just showed me a lot of different defenses, a lot of different people," said Anthony. "They fronted, they tilted the floor, tried to make it tough every catch," Anthony said. "I think they did a great job of playing the passing lanes."
New York came into the game tied with the Bobcats for the fewest turnovers per game with 12.2. But the Knicks would committ 18 on the evening which led to 17 points for the Miami Heat.
“Some of them were just unforced turnovers,” Woodson said. “We just didn’t see the defense and we threw it away.”
J.R. Smith finished with 20 points for the Knicks, who had won four of their previous five meetings against Miami over the past two seasons. Much like the other players, Smith doesn't believe the team suffered any kind of steback.
“I don’t think it’s a setback at all,” Smith said. “We just have to regroup and get ready for Monday. I mean, they’re a great team, a championship club the last two years, so you just take your hat off to them and understand we have to go back out there and try and get a win.”
New York did get back Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire both back on the court but played limited minutes. The last time these two teams played, both of them played very well in extended minutes. Another player who was on the court when the Knicks defeated Miami was Iman Shumpert. However, New York's starting shooting guard missed his second straight game because of a shoulder injury.
“Iman’s a big part of what we do from a defensive standpoint because we can match him up on Wade or LeBron. Not having him tonight, it hurt,” Woodson said. “I thought our guys battled. And LeBron was LeBron. He made every play down the stretch to help them secure the lead and walk out of this building with the win.”
Despite their sloppy ways, The Knicks were still within striking distance of winning the game. They trailed by six points entering the fourth quarter and eventually got it down to 84-79 with over nine minutes left to play. But the defense just fell apart for New York as the Heat hit 11 of the first 14 shots.
"Whenever we got real close, they got about two, three stops in a row and then they scored on those," said Smith. "We just weren't able to counter for some reason.