7:25 am May. 1, 2012
If Saturday's Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat was demoralizing for the Knicks because of just how poorly they played, Monday night's 104-94 defeat in Game 2 will have upset them for precisely the opposite reason: they lost despite quite a lot going right.
Carmelo Anthony scored early and often, finishing with 30 points and nine rebounds and holding LeBron James to just 8-for-18 shooting. Tyson Chandler still seemed less than 100 percent, but he provided help inside, with 13 points and seven rebounds. Amar'e Stoudemire scored 18 points, and Baron Davis shook off the effects of a back injury to score 12 and hand out six assists against just three turnovers.
And despite all that, the Knicks never really had a clear shot at winning this game.
But there were several reasons Miami couldn't be caught. For one thing, Dwayne Wade did essentially whatever he wanted while guarded by Landry Fields, starting the game hitting seven of eight shots and finishing with 25 points, four assists and a single turnover all night. Moving J.R. Smith onto Wade neutralized him to an extent, but also took away New York's last effective weapon against wide-open threes from the Heat.
With the Knicks consistently double-teaming Wade, James and Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Mike Miller were wide open to hit three three-pointers.
Miami employed double-teams too, but somehow it didn't result in open looks for the Knicks' outside shooters. The Heat are much faster, and employ better defensive players. It's really that simple.
Miami also had a consistent plan throughout the game. James handed out nine assists, Chalmers had six, Wade and Bosh both had four. Compare that to the Knicks, who received a total of two assists from their starting lineup aside from Davis. Carmelo Anthony, for all of the defensive pressure sent his way, had one assist all night. That's a player who isn't finding his open teammates.
And when Davis wasn't on the floor, it was up to J.R. Smith to try to find someone cutting to the basket, but the offensive plan seemed entirely missing from start to finish. Stoudemire had three shots in the first half, which was fewer than Jared Jeffries, who shouldn't be shooting at all.
Will things be better for the Knicks at home? Miami hasn't received consistent play like they got last night from Chris Bosh and their bench all season, so maybe they'll cool off. Oh, and Jeremy Lin might be back in Game 4, too. Lord knows them Knicks could use a point guard.
But the game on Monday seemed to show that if Miami plays as well as it can, it doesn't really matter what the Knicks do.