The Miami Heat wanted to make a statement and they did so in near perfect style.
Surprisingly the league leading Heat entered the game flying under the radar as the Jeremy Lin circus came to town, over shadowing Miami’s seven game win streak.
It didn’t take long for Miami to get into Lin’s head, forcing 5 turnovers from the rookie point guard before the half and condemning the phenom into his worst game in the NBA.
Defense was the emphasis for the Heat and they set the tempo for the game with perhaps the best defensive performance this group has offered in their 18 months together. The movement and rotation was stunning, their close outs were effective and the help defense was the best you will see all season. Joel Anthony, the unsung hero for Miami, had the best game of his career as far as defensive impact goes, finishing with 5 blocks and forcing the Knicks out of the paint merely with his presence.
Reggie Miller described LeBron James’ defense as reminiscent of that of Deion Sanders, covering every square inch of the court and producing one of the best performances of his career on that end of the floor.
James finished with a stat stuffing best 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. Wade had 22 and Bosh led all scorers with 25.
All the talk before the game, and in fact for the last fortnight, was about Jeremy Lin and how he would cope against a truly great team that plays truly great defense. He fared terribly. Lin had 8 points on 1/11 shooting, he had just 3 assists with 8 turnovers and at times looked notably selfish, taking the ball into charges when he had open men to pass to.
If there was ever to be a game or a performance to stop the Linsanity, it was this one. However, it may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the former Harvard grad as the hype will surely die down and allow things to find a more natural rhythm for himself and the Knicks.
Miami had more rebounds (+5), more assists (+5), more steals (+3), more blocks (+ 7) and less turnovers (-3) which gave evidence to the notion that the Heat dominated the Knicks in every department. They held New York to 39% from the field, whilst shooting 49% themselves, and marked their 8th straight win by 10+ points.
The NBA heads into it’s All Star Weekend now with every team earning some much needed rest and recovery. Miami sees their Big 3 head into the All Star Game on Sunday night, whereas New York just has Carmelo Anthony featuring. Mario Chalmers and reigning champ James Jones will also compete in the Three Point Shootout Competition.