In My Opinion

David J. Neal: No effort means no victory for Miami Heat

 

dneal@miamiherald.com

Well, that wasn’t a championship performance unless you mean a performance by a team comforted by knowing it can win a championship because it has most recently. Which begs the question about this 28-point scorching of the Heat: What does it mean?

The Heat got a home look at the Knicks, once NBA comedy candy with Carmelo topping. Remember how happy you were when the Heat drew the Knicks in the first round of last year’s playoffs? Or, how when you felt down about your day, you could check out whatever was going on with the Knicks and get a better laugh than a Fox sitcom?

Now, they’ve been coaxed into playing offense with great spacing and defense with great care by coach Mike Woodson. Woodson has been assisted at the offensive end by Jason Kidd, still smart as a fox if not much younger than Redd Foxx was when he played Fred Sanford.

So, to these newfangled Knicks, the Heat, a team with the strongest defensive identity this side of the Baltimore Ravens, gave up 120 points. At home. On national television.

The Knicks got on one of those rolls good jump-shooting teams will from time to time, burning the nets from behind the three-point arc. Now, had they done this over so many extended hands and raised arms from the Heat, you would say well, that’s NBA life. Get ’em next time.

Instead, the Heat seemed content to wait for the Knicks to cool down. Oh, there was the occasional fly out, usually at a pump fake by Steve Novak, who somehow reminded me of Set Shot from The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. By the time they started defending the three-point shot, the Knicks couldn’t be raised from unconscious.

The Heat usually hustles so commonly, all that effort comes off as effortless. Then you see the team beaten for long rebounds as it was Thursday, which turned too often into more open three-point shots, and you realize what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

And, oh, this was the next time from the 20-point loss back on Nov.2. The Heat gave up triple digits that night, too, as the Knicks hit 19 of 36 three-point shots. The Knicks hit 18 of 44 on Thursday, 18 of 38 from everyone hot named Rasheed Wallace. So, this kind of counts as a trend and sits one game short of being a real problem.

The Knicks played without offensive powerhouse Carmelo Anthony. The Heat played without defensive intensity.

In the first quarter, Raymond Felton went by No. 3 on the Heat like he was No D-Wade. In the second quarter, 35-year-old Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni creaked down the lane past two Heat signposts for a layup, such a shameful dereliction of defense that half the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd not wearing Knicks gear immediately said “timeout” or signaled for it along with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Like the lower bowl crowd, the Heat was late getting out of the bowels of AmericanAirlines Arena for the second half and the Heat went from tied at 53 to down 66-57 in 2 minutes 39 seconds. It didn’t get much better and didn’t feel as if it would

So what does this all mean? Does anything count in the NBA before Christmas, which was when the league began playing last year after solving a lockout like that other winter league can’t? The Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Are they now the best team in the East and the Heat now needing to play catch-up.

The answer heard in the Heat’s game Thursday: Call us in the spring.

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