After a humiliating loss in Cleveland, New York Knicks fans were ready to buckle down and wade through some tough times while Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups learned to jell and the team regained its fluidity. The waiting will continue, but New York provided a brilliant glimpse of their capability on Sunday night with a rousing win over the Miami Heat. Anthony, Stoudemire, and Billups were solid, if streaky, throughout the evening, but each contributed to the late-game stand that clinched the victory. Billups captained a 6-0 run with a difficult off-balance runner and a preposterously deep three-pointer to put New York up one. After that, solid defense by Amar'e Stoudemire (who swatted LeBron James at the rim) and Anthony (who contested James's attempt to tie from outside). Shawne Williams hit four free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
New York's new lineup still wasn't totally in sync, but they showed plenty of promise on both ends of the floor. A 16-0 run to end the first half notwithstanding, the Knicks won despite shooting just 38 percent (including 6-of-22 from outside), winning the game with improved defense instead of the usual shooting. Dwyane Wade was held to just 5-of-15 shooting, while better rebounding, closing out, and foul control prevented the rest of the Heat from chipping in from the perimeter and in the paint.
All told, this doesn't erase the Cleveland loss, nor does it serve as evidence that the Knicks have arrived. It does show what this squad can do, though, and it sure is a pleasant end to a rough weekend.
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