Lebron James is better than Carmelo Anthony. It is as simple as that (it also doesn’t hurt to have Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on your team too). Sunday afternoon, Lebron showcased his all around skills and proved why the Heat are the team to beat in the NBA. This basketball game was a tale of two halves, and it took a turn when the best player in the world took the game over. The Knicks opened the game with loads of energy, and Madison Square Garden seemed to be filled with that “playoff” electricity. The Knicks played a nearly perfect first half and at one point had a 16 point lead over the Heat. Carmelo Anthony came out on fire and hit 4 out of his first 5 shots. He also got to the free throw line 4 times in the first quarter, hitting 8 out of 9 free throws. Jason Kidd finally woke from his slumber and decided to hit 4 three-pointers in the first half. As a Knicks fan I loved what I saw in the first half, but I had this sneaking suspicion that the Heat weren’t down for the count. A 14 point halftime lead was cut to only 4 with 6:52 still left in the third quarter. How did that happen you say? Well, Chris Bosh came out of the locker room like a bat out of hell, scoring 7 points in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter. Now, the Knicks showed great perseverance stretching the lead back out to 11 points with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. And from there it was the Lebron James show. Lebron took the responsibility of guarding Carmelo Anthony for the entire 2nd half. Lebron shut him down, limiting Melo to only 8 2nd half points. He also helped the Heat close the 3rd quarter on an 8-1 run, cutting the lead back down to 4. Melo did start the 4th quarter with a quick basket, but Lebron came right back and hit the two biggest shots of the game. He nailed back to back three-pointers tying the game at 79. Both teams traded baskets over the next couple minutes, but when the Heat took the lead with 4:28 to go, they wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. The Knicks still had a chance when they were down 4, with the ball, and 30 seconds to play, however what transpired next became the nail in the coffin for the Knicks. J.R. Smith threw a lazy pass across the top of the key toward Carmelo Anthony. Lebron jumped the passing lane, stole the ball, and threw down a ferocious dunk. This put the game out of reach, and the Heat won 99-93. This has also officially put the Eastern Conference out of reach.
The name of this game was defense. The Knicks started the game with great intensity. They were playing solid team defense. They were doubling, and switching, and rotating perfectly in their defensive assignments. This kept the Heat’s offense at bay and allowed them to sustain a lead throughout the entire 1st half. Lebron though, headlined the defensive attack for the Heat in the 2nd half. Like I mentioned earlier, he completely shut down a tired Carmelo Anthony and forced the rest of the Knicks to beat them (that obviously did not happen). The Heat’s swarming defense forced 18 turnovers by the Knicks. This is very uncharacteristic for the Knicks who only average just over 11 turnovers per game. The turnovers were crucial in this game, and they all seemed to come at inopportune times for the Knicks. On top of his stellar defense, Lebron also added 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists (just another day at the office). This is clearly Lebron’s team, but everyone needs to realize just how fortunate he is to have such a talented player by his side. Dwayne Wade had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Combined they shot over 50% from the field, and were just 2 rebounds and 5 assists away from having 2 TRIPLE DOUBLES. It’s basically unfair, but I’ll save my excuses for a later date. We all know how good the Heat are, the story here is the Knicks and their confused lineup. I like Mike Woodson finally making a move in changing up the starting lineup, but JAMES WHITE?!?! I know it’s not a real thing, that it’s just a move to bring Kidd off the bench, but JAMES WHITE?!?! James White shouldn’t be on an NBA roster, and he is starting for the third best team in the Eastern Conference? Are you serious Mr. Woodson? You might as well call up the Oklahoma City Thunder and try to get Ronnie Brewer back. At least when he started games for the Knicks, they were winning. What the Knicks need to do is insert Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup at the 4, and allow Shumpert and Melo to slide down into their natural positions to the 2 and 3 respectively. This will allow Melo to roam free offensively and not take on the task of guarding power forwards on the other end of the floor. Amar’e can still manage to stay under 30 minutes per game, and should keep the Knicks from getting down early in games. This has been one of the biggest parts of the Knicks downfall over the last two months. Coach Woodson should also go back to resting Carmelo Anthony at the start of the 4th quarter. Melo is not a guy who can play 40-plus minutes every night and still remain effective. No matter what the Knicks do with their lineup going forward, they need to play defense and scale back the amount of three-pointers they shoot. It makes them too streaky, and streaky in the NBA doesn’t win Championships.
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