The Miami Heat had all the answers for Jeremy Lin, who had his toughest struggle since taking over the starting point guard role of the New York Knicks. The Heat took over late in the first half and dominated throughout the second hald, en route to a 102-88 win, the Heat's eighth straight victory, all by double-digits. Lin finished with just 8 points and 3 assists on 1-of-11 shooting, with 8 turnovers. Carmelo Anthony has a team high 19 points but on just 7-of-20 shooting, while Amare Stoudemire finished with 13 points, only two of which came after halftime. On the other hand, Miami's Big Three all did their part with LeBron James scoring 20 points with 9 rebounds and 8 assists, while Chris Bosh scored 25 points and Dwyane Wade 22 as the Heat improved to 27-7.
Lin was unable to get anything going for the Knicks' offense all night. Shortsighted fans will point to this game and say the Knicks, 17-18, are nowhere near competing at the top of the Eastern Conference, and perhaps that's true. But many will also say that this game is proof that all the Linsanity was just a temporary thing. It's likely that the reality of the situation falls somewhere in the middle, and chances are that this could be the most important game for Lin's overall, long-term development. It's also worth noting that the Heat did aa good defensive job overall, and Lin's backup, Baron Davis, struggles just as much in dealing with the Heat's pressure defense.
The game started frantically. It was a first half that seemed to rattle Jeremy Lin, and the Knicks struggled early to find offense. The Knicks turned the ball over early and often, allowing the Heat to do what they do best, get out in transition. However, when the Knicks were able to get the Heat to play half-court offense, the teams were on a much more level playing field. Amare Stoudemire kept the Knicks in the game in the first half, with 11 timely points, and the Knicks' bench did better than the Heat's reserves, namely, Steve Novak hitting all three of his 3-point attempts. But Miami forced 15 turnovers in all in the first half, and used a late run to take a 51-47 lead heading into the break. The second half didn't offer any respite, as the Heat got their half court offense going and starting hitting shots, especially Bosh.
The All-Star Break couldn't come at a better time for the Knicks who need two things desperately that the break will give them; rest and practice time. In just three weeks, New York has totally changed as a team, and they need time together to build chemistry. While the microscope will mostly fall on Lin, Anthony and Stoudemire, there are the late additions of J.R. Smith and Baron Davis who still need to assimilate. Lin has proved that he can win games at the NBA level, and that hasn't changed because of one bad performance against the league's best team.
There is plenty of time after the All-Star break for the over analysis and discussion of whether the Knicks are for real or not. Eventually, their performances will speak for themselves. Until then, though, the Knicks are where they most need to be at this very moment, off the basketball court and resting.