New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony, Miami Heat's LeBron James
Final Score: Knicks 112, Heat 92
There wasn't anyone who expected the New York Knicks to beat the Heat in Miami by 20 points tonight with Carmelo Anthony.
Thanks to Raymond Felton and company, however, they did so without him.
Here are the three biggest reasons why.
Raymond Felton was unstoppable
The Knicks had the defending NBA champions on the road tonight.
They were also playing without their best player, the league's third leading scorer overall.
They needed someone to step up and Felton did specifically that.
He was playing in pain himself, fighting through an injured thumb. Regardless, he finished with 27 points on 10-20 from the floor overall to go along with seven assists.
Felton's plus/minus for the game was +19
He scored 12 more points than he previously averaged on the season heading into tonight's matchup.
Felton hit a big shot each time Miami threatened to make a major run and is a big reason why they never actually did.
Jason Kidd's calming influence
Jason Kidd finished with a game-high plus/minus of +31.
If you didn't think the Knicks are a more cohesive group with Kidd on the floor prior to tonight, you might want to change your mind.
He didn't shoot particularly well, just 4-12 overall and 3-8 from three, but he was that proverbial coach on the floor.
Kidd finished with 11 points and four assists but contributed much more than can be quantified.
Beyond the plus/minus stat, that is.
Heat waited for Knicks to rollover
Maybe the Heat thought what we all did when Anthony was scratched.
Maybe they thought the Knicks would just roll over and give one away they had no business winning.
The Knicks never did go away, however, which was the problem for Miami.
New York out-rebounded the Heat behind nine boards from Tyson Chandler who finished +23 for the game.
He out-played Chris Bosh too, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and a -21.
Dwyane Wade finished a scary -33 on the game himself, too, with 13 points and three rebounds.
The Knicks are now 14-4 with the win. They maintain the Eastern Conference's best record.
Miami falls to 12-5.
End of Third Quarter: Knicks 90, Heat 80
LeBron James is doing everything he can with 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
He's at a plus/minus of -7.
What's worse, though, is Dwyane Wade's plus/minus of -22.
Raymond Felton is +8 with 27 points after three quarters for the Knicks.
First Half: Heat 53, Knicks 53
Felton has 16 points to lead the way with a plus/minus of -2.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Jason Kidd's calming influence in situations like this though.
Kidd is has a plus/minus of +10 tonight so far.
First Quarter: Heat 26, Knicks 23
The New York Knicks came out more inspired than expected after Anthony's late scratch.
James scored 11 in the first quarter.
Carmelo Anthony participated in warm-ups tonight but was unable to go. He is inactive as the New York Knicks tip off against the Miami Heat on TNT.
LeBron James enters averaging 27.6 points against New York in 31 total games for his career.