Heat fall flat, as Knicks get emotional post-Sandy win
NEW YORK, Nov 03, 2012 (Menafn - Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --It was a game guard Dwyane Wade didn't think should be played, one coach Erik Spoelstra wasn't sure was going to be played, and one that the Miami Heat ultimately didn't show up to play.
Set against a backdrop of a city and region in both ruins and recovery from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, the New York Knicks turned a belated season opener into a rousing Madison Square Garden revival with a 104-84 victory Friday night.
As good as the Heat looked in Tuesday's season-opening victory against the visiting Boston Celtics, on the night they collected their 2012 NBA championship rings, Spoelstra's team looked equally out of sorts Friday, unable to contain Carmelo Anthony on what turned into a 30-point night by the Knicks forward.
The Heat were supposed to be catching the Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back set. Instead, New York's planned Thursday visit for the Brooklyn Nets' debut at the Barclays Center was postponed by the aftereffects of Sandy.
That left the NBA oldest team with plenty of pep in their step, even with Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert sidelined by injuries. It also turned what was scheduled as the Knicks' home opener into their season opener.
And made it consecutive Knicks home games at the Garden against the Heat.
The last time the Knicks played at the Garden before the latest round of renovations kept them away from their home for the entire preseason was their Game 4 victory in the first round of last season's playoffs against the Heat.
That was the Knicks' lone victory in the best-of-seven series, one that also featured an all-or-nothing approach behind Anthony, with the Knicks forward scoring 41 points that afternoon.
While the Heat got an ample effort from LeBron James, who finished with 23 points, Wade was limited to 14, Chris Bosh to 12, albeit also with 11 rebounds.
After saying earlier in the day he didn't think the game should have been played, Wade came out as if he was somewhere else, scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting with two turnovers in the first period, as the Knicks took a 33-17 lead into the second quarter.
Wade came around in the second quarter, with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, as the Heat went into halftime within 55-44, despite 12 first-half turnovers.
For the Knicks, it was Anthony and more Anthony early on. Anthony took 17 shots over the first two periods, eight more than any other player on the court and 11 more than any teammate. And he just kept firing, even as the misses mounted.
Still, taking advantage of mismatches off switches, including a couple against Rashard Lewis, Anthony had 20 points at halftime on 7-of-17 shooting.
In the wake of the area's devastation at the hands of Sandy, the reason Wade didn't believe the game should have been played, Spoelstra went in calling the game, "a little bit of an escape for New Yorkers."
It was that and more as the Knicks quickly pushed to a 17-6 lead, increasing that edge to 23 in the third quarter, dominating from the 3-point line and feasting on Heat turnovers.
The Heat were limited early when Mario Chalmers was forced to the bench less than 3 1/2 minutes into the game. That left the Heat exposed defensively when Ray Allen entered in his place. Ultimately, the offensive boost needed off the bench was provided by Lewis, who offset much of that with his defensive struggles.
As good as Chalmers was in the season opener, he was that shaky Friday night, foul prone, a statistical non-factor, fouling out with 1:58 to play with three points and one assist.
For the Heat, who spent three hours making their way in from Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday night, it was a case of turn and burn back to Miami, where they will face the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Asked if he might ease the minutes of his veterans amid back-to-back sets, Spoelstra said before the game, "Everything is day to day. There is not a set plan." He had all three of his stars on the court with the Heat down 19 with five minutes to play.
To a degree, there wasn't a plan at all Friday, the uncertainly of the situation ultimately leaving the Heat vulnerable to a moment months in the making for the Knicks.
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