Dwyane Wade picked up exactly where he left off, helping Miami run all over New York en route to a 99-89 win in the Triple A.
Wade finished with 28 points, 5 assists and 4 steals in a vintage performance highlighted by his trademark Euro step and a series of flashy alley oops. James had a game high 31 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in another hugely efficient night. Chris Bosh was unseen throughout the majority, tallying just 13 points from 18 shots.
The Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony which took a lot of the gloss off the game and robbed the fans of another classic showdown with his rival and good friend LeBron James. Anthony’s fellow star, Amare Stoudemire, continued to struggle and looked to be a third or fourth option as the Knicks went in search of their shoots, attempting a league season high 43 triples, making 18. It was the only reason they did not lose the game by 30.
Both teams used just 9 players in their rotation, by Miami certainly got the better production. However New York’s Bill Walker put up a season high 21 points, all coming from 7 three pointers.
The Knicks continue to struggle to find their identity and to me it is undeniable that they will not become a true championship contender until Mike D’Antoni is gone. Stoudemire has been publicly vocal about the need of the team to buy into D’Antoni’s system, as he says he has seen it work, but really it hasn’t and they largely got by because of the ingenuity of Steve Nash. They were never effective in the playoffs and that is because you cannot go into games looking to simply outscore your opponent. D’Antoni’s philosophy is not just a good offense is your best defense, but a good offense is your only defense. Tonight their offense was abysmal, their defense worked hard, but this team is light years off where they need to be.
If the Amare Stoudemire is going to be continually ignored by his teammates, rather deferring to Carmelo or in tonight’s case, Bill Walker, then I don’t see any reason in keeping him. He has a significant amount of value because he is a true star of the league, but the Knicks have become a worse team since acquiring Carmelo Anthony and most of it is due to the insistence of the team to smother him with possessions rather than distribute equally with their captain. It’s clear the two don’t fit together, mostly because neither are anything of a defensive presence, and their lack of ability and motivation on this end trickles down into the role players, creating an atmosphere of ineptitude and disinterest on the other end of the court.
Miami are soaring and headed towards another challenge towards the championship. The just as ambitious Knicks are moving in the opposite direction. Something’s gotta give.