The Knicks lost 102-88, in Miami to the Heat, as Lin had his worst game of the season. He had as many turnovers (eight) as points and only shot 1-11 from the field. This is not shocking because Miami is the best defensive team that Lin has faced and he was due for an off game.
However, they were impressively only down by four at halftime, before fading in the third quarter.
Amar’e Stoudemire looked like the Amare Stoudemire of the first half of last season at times, but he would combine with Lin to turn the ball over 14 times. For the Knicks to have gotten the win over the Heat that number probably would have had to have been seven.
The Knicks also shot only 39 percent from the field, which can be blamed on Lin’s low shooting percentage, as well as Barong Davis going 0-7. Davis is still just as good of a distributor as he has been throughout his career as he could have had more than three assists, but he will need to be more of a reliable backup point guard when the team returns from the All-Star break.
All things had to go perfectly for the Knicks to prevent the Heat from getting their eighth consecutive win. They have been the best team in the NBA so far this season, with the Thunder right behind, and Stoudemire would have had to dominate throughout the game for the Knicks to have a chance.
As expected many Knicks fans were cheering for Carmelo Anthony’s jumper on the first possession of the game, assisted by Lin.
Dewayne Wade almost made the crowd go crazy with an attempted dunk, but the Knicks played tenacious defense helping him miss the attempt.
With Miami winning 10-4, Lin proved once again that he can do it all as he was able to draw an offensive foul on Wade as he was driving to the hoop. He knows how to help the team in every way that a point guard should. At least he was able to cause problems for Miami in the first few minutes because he was not able to solve the combination of Mario Chalmers, Dewayne Wade and Norris Cole.
Stoudemire made a drive to the basket like he often did during the first half of last season, drew the foul, but should have converted it. He would only make one free-throw to make the score, 14-11. One of the only positives offensively for the team is that they would shoot 86 percent from the free throw line.
JR Smith made a sweet no look pass to set up a Tyson Chandler dunk on the next possession, but unfortunately the refs called Chandler for a technical foul. It did not seem like he deserved a technical for what Chandler did. That was his ninth technical and he will get suspended for a game once he hits 13.
To prevent an easy slam, Smith was able to draw Miami’s third offensive foul, as James tried to get to the basket. On Miami’s previous possession the Knicks did not play tight enough defense as Wade did a back door cut off an out of bounds pass to lead to a dunk.
Even though the Knicks had nine turnovers and shot 38 percent in the first quarter, they played well overall helping them only have a 24-20 deficit to the Heat, who came in having won seven in a row.
Novak continued his hot shooting from long distance as he nailed his third three in as many tries to give the Knicks a two-point lead two minutes into the second quarter.
Both teams stepped up their defense as there was not much scoring, but JR Smith did convert a bank shot at the end of the shot clock. Both teams had blocks, steals and offensive fouls leading to a timeout by the Knicks with 3:30 remaining.
The last 10 seconds of the half had Chalmers make a deep 28-foot 3 assisted by Chalmers and Melo make a jumper as time expired to make the score 51-47. Lin and Stoudemire combined for 12 turnovers in the half, but they were able to prevent the Heat from dominating close to the rim.
The Knicks could not keep up with the star players on Miami and New York did not have enough ball movement on offense, which led to the Heat taking a nine point lead midway through the third.
Joel Anthony had blocked five shots with two minutes left in the third in the process of the Heat turning up their defense. D’Antoni should have put Baron Davis and Novak into the game earlier than with 2:30 left in the quarter because Lin needed a break and Davis can create for Novak and others.
The Knicks were down by 14, 80-66, at the end of the third, as they would have needed Melo to takeover in the fourth and cut down on turnovers to have a chance. He had a team high of 19 points, but it was not nearly enough.
JR Swish, as he is called, helped reduce the Heat lead to eight points, and force a Miami timeout, as he made a short bank shot followed by a deep 3, that was assisted by Davis. He has the ability to score in bunches to add much needed scoring. He can also sometimes take many ill-advised shots, but he did not do that tonight. He scored 14 points, had three rebounds and three assists and has been a solid player on both sides in his first three games.
Even though the Knicks were down by 12, 100-88, in the last minute, Lin was impressively able to steal the ball from Wade and attempt to score at the other end before the Knicks were called for a turnover.
The Knicks came close to preventing the Heat from winning their eighth game in a row by double figures but they did not have luck on their side in the final minute.
As is normally the case the Heat were led by LeBron James who had 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Dewayne Wade who had 22 points, five boards and two assists. The Knicks missed having the impressive rookie, Iman Shumpert, who is out because of a knee injury, because he would have been assigned to James or Wade because he is the Knicks best perimeter defender.
The loss to the best team in the Eastern Conference can be a building block for the Knicks. They know that the need to convert on every easy scoring opportunity when playing elite teams, capitalize on turnovers, limit their own turnovers and play defense for the whole game, which is easier said than done when facing Wade, James and Chris Bosh.
They enter the All-Star break having gone 9-2 in their past 11 games, with Lin leading the way, and currently sit in seventh place in the conference with a 17-18 record.
However, the All-Star break comes at the perfect time for this team that is just about all healthy since they only have one game in the next nine days. Shumpert and Josh Harrellson should both be ready to practice again after the All-Star break, which will make the team even deeper. The added practice time over the next nine days will be like the training camp that this team as presently put together never had.
It will help the team on both sides of the ball, and understand even more how D’Antoni wants them to play, since they now have the right players for his system to succeed. Since Novak and Smith have been producing on a high level, and Davis should be able to next week, the team will be able to play 11 quality players once Shumpert and Harrellson return.