Knicks vs. Heat: Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony get it done on defensive end
Monday, February 28, 2011; 1:48 AM
But not when it mattered.
Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony rose up offensively and defensively - mostly defensively - in the waning minutes to deal an excruciating 91-86 defeat to the Heat, which has struggled all season against the Eastern Conference's best.
"There's a reason we keep losing these close games," Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. "We got to figure it out. . . . hopefully, eventually, we'll turn the corner."
Showing an unexpected cohesiveness and playing with a playoff-like sense of urgency just days after revamping its roster, New York fought back from a 15-point first-half deficit to fight Miami shot for shot throughout most of the second half.
The Knicks then came up with two crucial defensive stops against Miami's LeBron James in final seconds as a handful of free throws clinched the victory.
"We just settled down defensively and figured out what we wanted to do and stuck with it," Anthony said. "We're not where we want to be yet, but we won a play-hard game tonight."
Anthony finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field; Stoudemire collected 16 (8 of 14), but made his biggest statement by blocking a driving layup attempt by James with 7.9 seconds left to play as James tried to maneuver around Anthony.
"Stoud is definitely a good weak-side shot blocker . . . he got a piece of it," James said.
Anthony, meantime, got a hand in James's face as James misfired on a three-pointer in a desperation attempt to tie the game with 2.3 seconds left.
"That's what it takes," Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I know those guys, they have big hearts . . . The bigger the stage, the bigger the game, the bigger they play."
Fueled by a three-pointer and crucial steal by Chauncey Billups - who along with Anthony was acquired from Denver last Tuesday - the Knicks used a 9-0 run in the final two minutes to take an 87-84 lead with 43.2 seconds left. The Heat could not recover. Billups scored 16, including seven in the last 8 minutes 4 seconds.