Knicks Struggle Down the Stretch, Lose to Heat 99-93

The Miami Heat tied the franchise record by winning its 14th straight game Sunday afternoon, beating the New York Knicks 99-93 in Madison Square Garden. A strong second half surge helped the Heat overcome a 14-point deficit at the half. The surge was led by LeBron James, who finished the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists – and also that fast-break tomahawk slam.

The execution down the stretch for the Knicks wasn’t good, and the Miami Heat capitalized off it. That’s really where the Knicks lost the game. The Knicks turned the ball over five times in the last nine minutes of the game, which led to six points for the Heat on the other end. Taking contested shots as the shot clock wounded down was not what coach Mike Woodson was looking for.

“Turnovers, that was the difference,” Woodson said. “We were turning it over and not getting back. Our shot selection was bad coming down the stretch.”

Knicks guard Ray Felton felt the same way.

“They made plays at the end and we didn’t, said Felton. “That’s what it boils down to. The game was really won in the last two minutes of the game.”

It also didn’t help that the Knicks shot just 8-for-29 from beyond the arc this game. The other two games versus the Heat this season they shot a combined 37-for-80 (46.3%). JR Smith made just three of his 14 attempts from long range tonight. Carmelo Anthony started off strong, scoring 24 points of his 32 points in the first half, but really the only hot hand for the Knicks today was Jason Kidd. He played a great all-around game for his team, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

So far this season, the Knicks have proven that they are a great three-point shooting team, and that they rely on the three in order to win games. Coming in to today’s game, the Knicks have made the second most total threes in the NBA. They average 10.8 threes per game on 37% shooting.

Anthony, the Knicks’ team captain, thought that today was just an off day for him and the team.

“We had a lot of open shots,” Anthony said. “They were just giving us the three today and daring us to shoot. We just didn’t knock them down today. Those same threes and those same shots, I’d take them any day, especially with our team. I encourage the guys to take those shots.”

The fourth quarter was a battle. No team led by more than six points. The Heat finally pulled away with 1:39 remaining in the game when LeBron drove through the lane for a tough lay-up to give his team a 95-91 lead. The back-breaker was when LeBron intercepted a pass, and slammed it home on the other end to put the Heat up six with 24 seconds left.

It was a tough loss for the Knicks to take because they had total control of the game in the first half, leading by as many as 16 at one point. In the fourth quarter, they were in the game, but gave up the lead in the final minutes. Tyson Chandler knows his team can battle with the best teams in the league any day, but the key is finishing games.

“[Miami] knows that we’re a good team, and we handled them pretty well the last couple games,” Chandler said. “I felt like this was a very winnable game. I’m walking out of here feeling like we let one go.”

The Knicks will not have much time to make adjustments because they have a quick turnaround. They will travel to Ohio to face the Cavs tomorrow night. The Knicks started the season strong, reaching second place in the Eastern Conference, but the main challenge will be if they can get back into the form they were in during the first few months of the season.


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