The Miami Heat (33-13) snapped the New York Knicks' (19-28) four-game winning streak on Saturday night behind 30 points from LeBron James and 22 from Dwyane Wade in a 106-91 victory.
In total, five Heat players finished in double figures on a night when Miami shot 54 percent from the field and 35 percent from three, as the Knicks' 22nd-ranked defense was no match for a motivated Miami team that was looking to bounce back strong from a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"We just wanted to get back to our identity. It was encouraging to see Miami Heat activity," head coach Erik Spoelstra said, according to Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points but was bottled up during a first half in which the Heat outscored the Knicks by seven.
Offense certainly wasn't the problem for the Knicks, though, as they shot 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. New York was outscored by nine points over the game's final 12 minutes and by eight in the second half.
LeBron James, Miami Heat, Small Forward
As usual, LeBron James was steady across the board, and efficiency was the name of his game.
Not only did James score a game-high 30 points, but he also facilitated to the tune of seven dimes and pulled down eight rebounds while recording a game-high six steals. More importantly, James took care of business on 13-of-22 shooting from the field and 1-of-3 from three, marks which were consistent with his impressive season averages.
The degree of difficulty on some of the shots James hit down the stretch was enormous, and his consistency continues to sustain Miami, which is all the Heat can ask for as they begin to trudge through the dog days of the regular season.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, Shooting Guard
This was the Dwyane Wade we've been waiting to see.
Wade looks the best he's looked in 3 weeks.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 2, 2014
Granted, he was being guarded by a combination of some of the Knicks' less dedicated defenders, but Wade was attacking the rim instead of settling for jumpers the way he did against the Thunder, and his energy level was much-improved, evident by some sneaky backdoor cuts.
That lane cut from Wade is the exact essence of what they need him to be.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 2, 2014
Wade looked nimble and energetic from start to finish, totaling 22 points, four rebounds and four assists, although he did turn the ball over a team-high five times, accounting for half of Miami's giveaways in the first half.
All in all, though, it was a very productive night for the 10-time All-Star, who came to life on the Madison Square Garden hardwood.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat, Center
Chris Bosh entered Saturday having scored in double figures in nine straight games. But after finding points hard to come by on a night when James, Wade and Shane Battier were Miami's leading offensive contributors, Bosh will be forced to start a new streak when the Heat resume play on Monday.
Chris Bosh has typically played pretty well in the Garden, until this season. Was 3-of-10 in first meeting, and is 1-of-7 tonight.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 2, 2014
Bosh's usual jump-shooting cadence was out of sync throughout, which resulted in the big man tying his season low with four points on 2-of-11 shooting, including 0-of-3 from three. He added a team-high 10 rebounds in the win.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, Point Guard
After self-destructing with five turnovers in a sloppy game against the Thunder, Mario Chalmers looked sharp against the Knicks thanks to two days of rest.
The third Heat player into double figures, Chalmers sought to attack the rim continually, and his determination to push the ball against a lethargic Knicks defense was encouraging.
In 28 minutes, Chalmers was good for 11 points, two dimes and two turnovers.
Ray Allen, Miami Heat, Sixth Man
Same story, different game for the slumping Ray Allen.
Another uninspiring outing resulted in three points on 1-of-4 shooting, and Miami's sixth man has now scored fewer than 10 points in three of his last five games.
With Michael Beasley out of the rotation for the time being, Allen needs to step up and prove he can still provide offensive value in the coming weeks.
Shane Battier, Miami Heat, Power Forward
Shane Battier's line at the end of the first quarter was enough to earn him high marks.
After scoring a combined 10 points over his last four games, Battier went off during the game's first 12 minutes, dropping 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting (3-of-4 from three).
Those 11 first-quarter points were even more impressive when you consider that Battier's season-high entering Saturday evening was 14 points, set on opening night against the Chicago Bulls.
In 30 minutes, Battier totaled a season-high 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-7 from three) and two assists.
However, more impressive than the scoring was the strong defense Battier played on Anthony throughout the first half. It was Battier's best game of the season to date.
Bench, Miami Heat
Miami's bench didn't provide much in terms of scoring, but Chris Andersen's activity level on both ends of the floor was excellent, as he blocked two shots, pulled down five rebounds and got to the line nine times (10 points total).
Birdman offering the type of activity that Oden is not yet up to, which is why Andersen is playing.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 2, 2014
In fact, the Heat's second unit may have lacked significant quantitative contributions due to head coach Spoelstra's desire to work his primary rotational bodies into a rhythm, according to Skolnick.
Spoelstra has gone 9 or 10 deep in first half all season. Staying at 8. Trying to get rhythm for this core group.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 2, 2014
Other than Andersen, the only other Heat players to see regular minutes were Norris Cole and Allen, but the former came up big when the game was on the line.
In 26 minutes, Cole managed to produce nine points and three assists. He also came up with several timely buckets in the fourth quarter to ice things.
Cole a difference maker. Defense on Felton, hounding him. Felton frustrated and passive.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) February 2, 2014
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, Power Forward
Sluggish would be an adequate way to summarize Carmelo Anthony's start (eight points on 3-of-8 shooting), which was more of a testament to Miami's defensive effort than anything else.
But despite the Knicks' efforts to get Anthony going in the second half, Miami had the game plan to shut him down, and did so effectively with swarming defense.
Heat are at a different level with their defense intensity and focus. They took Melo completely out of this game.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) February 2, 2014
Anthony was forced to fight his way to 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting (1-of-4 from three, 9-of-13 from the line), and he ultimately fell just short of a double-double with eight rebounds. He also committed a ghastly seven turnovers in the loss.
Woodson: "When they were doubling [Melo], he wasnt getting the ball to the right spots." Said they were attacking him quickly upon the catch— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 2, 2014
Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks, Center
It wouldn't be a stretch to say Tyson Chandler was the Knicks' most consistent player on both ends of the floor on Saturday night.
The game's leading rebounder with 11 boards (four offensive), Chandler flashed his usual tenacity on the glass and approached a double-double with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting while blocking two shots.
Big numbers have never been the name of the game for Chandler, but he was one of the few Knicks players who provided steady defensive effort on a night when New York surrendered 48 points in the paint.
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks, Small Forward
Starting once again in place of the injured Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith was presented with the unenviable task of being LeBron James' primary defender.
And from the jump, it was apparent that matchup wasn't going to work in the Knicks' favor, as James quickly scored nine first-quarter points on 4-of-7 shooting. However, Smith proved to be a spark plug for New York on the offensive end, racking up 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting in that same time frame, which was a nice counterpunch for the Knicks.
Smith went on to finish with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting (4-of-7 from three, 4-of-8 from the line), which continued a positive trend for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Entering Saturday, Smith was averaging 15.7 points on 45 percent shooting, and his improved play of late has been crucial to the Knicks' offensive revival.
Raymond Felton, New York Knicks, Point Guard
Raymond Felton's level of play on Saturday was equivalent to his overall level of talent, which is to say he was average at best on a night when the Knicks looked overmatched on both ends of the floor.
Seven points, four assists and four turnovers were the height of the excitement for Felton, as he was outworked by Chalmers and incapable of giving the Knicks another reliable off-the-dribble scoring option.
Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks, Shooting Guard
Considering Pablo Prigioni nearly doubled his season scoring average in the first half, the night can largely be summed up as a success for the Argentinian guard.
Pablo Prigioni, man. So scrappy and his high motor. The defensive tempo he creates is so contagious to the other guys. Knicks need it now.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) February 2, 2014
Playing with his trademark composure, Prigioni helped swing the ball and only took shots when absolutely wide open, but his patience was rewarded in the end, scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting from three while dishing out four assists.
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks, Sixth Man
Tim Hardaway Jr.'s jump shot was rather streaky, but he found a comfortable gear in the second half.
After opening 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-3 from three, Hardaway finished with 17 points on 7-of-14 (3-of-7 from three) shooting, but his final plus/minus total of minus-19 pointed to his struggles on the defensive end, where he was asked to guard James for extended periods.
Bench, New York Knicks
The most important bench contributor of note was Amar'e Stoudemire, who made his first appearance for the Knicks since suffering a sprained ankle on Jan. 16 against the Indiana Pacers.
But, as you would expect, Stoudemire played limited minutes (four) and as a result, his statistical output was held in check. In his return, Stoudemire scored just two points and pulled down a single rebound.
And when it came to other New York subs, there isn't a whole lot to discuss.
Jeremy Tyler and Kenyon Martin were both small parts of the rotation, but were good for just five points and four rebounds, combined.
What's Up Next?
The Knicks will have a day off before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Heat are set to square off against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.