The Knicks got a little bit of a HEAT check (pun intended) while attempting to extend their four-game winning streak in Miami on Monday. Though New York secured somewhat of an early lead, it didn't last long. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and co. came roaring and never looked back after beginning to apply some strong defensive pressure en route to an impressive romp.
Miami amassed a lead that was over 20 points and went on a 32-6 run midway through the first half. The Knicks never really found consistency with a decent rhythm, thus resulting in a 95-78 loss. Games are often contests of runs and back and forth action, but the Knicks never really proved to have such a fight inside them on this night.
The opponent put together a balanced effort on offense with five players scoring in double-figures. The game was, however, largely in part won on the defensive end, due to Hassan Whiteside's five blocks and a game-high plus/minus of +28 for defensive-minded rookie Justise Winslow. This was enough to sink the Knicks. Here's a look at some other observations from the game.
- The Heat didn't force the Knicks to change their overall game strategy much, at least on the offensive end. New York had the right idea and players were moving well without the ball in an attempt to create spacing, but the execution wasn't there. The Knicks got the shots they wanted, but the defensive pressure applied by Miami was undoubtedly enough to pester them into not being able to convert.
- As a result of such pressure, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Arron Afflalo collectively shot 38 percent from the field.
- Porzingis struggled from the field early on, starting off 3-of-10 shooting. But this actually wasn't the rookie's worst offensive outing to date, despite the romping his team suffered. The big man took time to make adjustments and react a bit more to what the defense was giving him. He hit a couple of daggers from long range in transition and was still undeterred from attacking the basket. He converted on 4 of his final 8 shots.
- A large part of this loss can be attributed to the Knicks' bench not only being ineffective, but blatantly non-existent from start to finish. Coach Derek Fisher sporadically pulled guys in and out in hopes of finding sort of rhythm, but he didn't have much luck. Lou Amundson boasted a team-high +6 in 10 minutes, however, proving to be energetic during the team's final attempt at a comeback midway through the second half.
- The Heat have had to retool a bit following the departure of LeBron James last year. But after narrowly missing the playoffs last season, they look to have righted the ship in a promising direction again. They've gotten a nice injection of youth from talented players like Whiteside, Winslow, and Tyler Johnson.