It was as typical a game between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks as you would imagine.
The Heat need a few minutes to wake up. The Knicks come out firing, and continue to do so for the rest of the game. The Heat play with effort for five minutes and almost look they’re going to run away from it. The Heat relent. The game is close for the next 20 minutes.
In the end, it’s usually a Knicks’ player making an unsubstantial amount of threes, but not enough because of too much LeBron James.
Was I close?
The Knicks bolted out to a 16-3 start, but were outscored by 24 over the final 45 minutes, leading to the Heat earning a 102-91 victory to take the season series 3-1.
LeBron James started out with four turnovers during that lackadaisical run to start, but only turned the ball over one more time throughout the rest of the contest. The initial poor start led to his usual dominance at all aspects of the game, as he consistently attacked New York’s interior and shot over the top of their perimeter defense.
His play, along with some big shots by Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers, overcame J.R. Smith’s career outing. The Knicks’ gunner made ten three-pointers in a game where he set the NBA record for three-point attempts in a game with 22, beating out Damon Stoudamire’s 21 attempts back in 2005.
His shot-chart after 25 field-goal attempts, to say the least, was interesting:
Smith’s shooting was enough to cut Miami’s fourth quarter lead from 15 to six on two occasions late into the final frame, but was met by a pair of Heat three-pointers both times.
Mario Chalmers hit an open three from the wing to push Miami’s lead to seven with 2:35 left. After Smith hit another three on the other end, Chris Bosh hit his first three-pointer of the night, a straightway trey that gave the Heat an insurmountable nine-point lead with 1:32 left.
The Heat were without Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden again, but were also without Chris Andersen, who had to sit out with a knee injury. Stepping up in Birdman’s place was Udonis Haslem, delivering another solid outing with six points and 11 rebounds.
As far as shooting goes, it was the type of game we were accustomed to seeing on a daily basis, prior to this season. The 44% they shot from beyond the arc was the best they’ve shot since shooting 48% in a win over Washington back on March 10th.
It’s also the second time in the past 11 games they’ve shot better than 35% from the perimeter. Leading the way was Ray Allen, hitting four of his nine attempts, LeBron James converting three of seven and Mario Chalmers draining two of his three attempts.
Even Shane Battier was back at it, hitting both of his three-point attempts. It’s the first time since March 10th that Battier has had multiple three-pointers in a game. He had made one three-pointer over the past nine games, before the “explosion” against New York.
Meanwhile, all New York could do was shoot the ball. Inspired by J.R. and his record-setting 22 attempts, the Knicks, as a team, attempted a season-high 42 three-pointers. They made 15 of them to finish with a respectable 36% conversion rate, but they only shot 38% overall.
New York also attempted 27 more shots than the Heat, thanks to 15 offensive rebounds and 16 Heat turnovers. It still wasn’t enough. Not even close. After today, you almost want to see New York, not Atlanta, in that final eighth spot.
Smith’s hot shooting was a necessity for a Knicks team that was devoid of Carmelo Anthony and his usual shot-making ability. Bothered by Shane Battier for most of the game, as well as an aching shoulder, Anthony managed only 13 points on 17 shots, and didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter.
J.R. Smith was in his element so much that he made us forget Carmelo was playing.
LeBron James: 38 points (13-22 overall, 3-7 from three, 9-12 on FT’S), 6 assists, 5 reboudnds, 1 steal, 5 turnovers in 43 minutes
What a turnaround after an uncharacteristic start. Four careless turnovers and a bad mid-range jumper in the first few minutes were met with 40 minutes of LeBron’s usual excellence. He took advantage of New York’s absurd idea to guard him with the likes of Iman Shumpert, and even Raymond Felton at times, and ended up getting to the line for 12 free throws.
Chris Bosh: 14 points (5-7 overall, 1-3 from three, 3-4 on FT’s), 7 rebounds, 3 turnovers in 32 minutes
Bosh also entered the game in a malaise, but didn’t snap out of it as quickly as LeBron did. By the end of the first half, Bosh had yet to record a rebound and had taken just one shot. The second half was a different story, though, as he was far more aggressive looking for his shot. All seven of his rebounds came in a third quarter that featured Miami outscoring New York by 11. His three-pointer with 1:30 left was the dagger.
Mario Chalmers: 15 points (4-7 overall, 2-3 from three, 5-6 on FT”s), 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 30 minutes
Another impressive outing by Mario, who has really been stepping up late in the absence of Dwyane Wade. He was aggressive, once again, and looked confident shooting from deep, especially on that three that diffused a late New York run. This was his fourth consecutive game with at least two threes. Also, at 39%, Mario will likely end up with the highest three-point percentage among Heat rotation players.