HEAT 88 - Knicks 93 Recap

January 27 – When the Miami HEAT have played quick, run-and-gun teams this year, their athletes have had field days. Before Thursday night’s game, they were 13-2 against teams ranked in the top ten in pace, 2-0 against the New York Knicks, the league’s second-fastest team.

In the early stages of this one, the trend continued, with the HEAT converting three open-court alley-oops during one two-minute period. But the longer the game went, the slower things got. Miami was routinely digging deep into the shot clock, and once the Knicks started hitting their open looks, the game was theirs.

Ninety possessions is almost exactly what the HEAT average, and not exactly the Knicks’ wheelhouse. In losing, 93-88, Miami scored less than a point per possession, with the majority of their offense in the second half coming from isolation sets that produced a mere 13 assists on 30 made field goals.

New York wasn’t drastically better, shooting 10-of-33 and 36 percent overall, but their looks were consistently better as they used Amar’e Stoudemire to draw the defense into the middle of the floor, with the rest of the offense waiting in the wings. The Miami defense sustained, but eventually, those kick-out opportunities created four threes in the game’s final 5:20, including a pair from Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields with 1:18 and 49.2 to play that put the Knicks over the top for good.

“Offensively, we had our chances,” Spoelstra said. “We trusted and made some open plays for our shooters. But despite only fifteen points in the fourth quarter, missed free throws and missed open shots, we still had a chance to close it out with two or three really ‘get down and dirty’ defensive stops, but we weren’t able to do it.”

Ugly as things got, the HEAT were in control for most of the night, getting away with their offensive stagnation largely because of Dwyane Wade, who scored 34 points on 22 attempts, hitting 13 consecutive shots at one point while pulling down a career-high 16 rebounds.

“When he has a hot streak, you have to keep giving it to him,” LeBron James said. “It’s not rocket science. When a guy has it going, you just have to keep feeding it to him and Wade had it going.”

The rest of the offense, though, was absent along with Chris Bosh, out with a high ankle sprain.

Outside of Wade, the HEAT shot 16-of-50 (32 percent), with only James Jones (5-of-8 from three) having a high-efficiency night. James, starting the game at power forward and playing there for most of the night, shot 7-of-24. He played true to his position, however, taking two threes and only seven shots outside of the paint. The HEAT went to

him regularly in the post, where his shots rimmed off for most of the night.

“I had some good looks, and I just missed them,” James said. “It was one of those games where you get it to the rim, and they’re just short or don’t have much lift.”

The Knicks simply bucked their poor shooting at the right time and iced the win with their free throws. And now the HEAT have three games in the next four days to correct what was surely a disappointing night, in terms of execution, having not played since the previous Saturday.