“They do play good defense and you’ve got to give them credit. But at the same time I really thought we had a lot of wide-open shots and we just missed and you are going to miss some.”– Mike D’Antoni
“I think we missed a lot of shots that were open shots. I think we just missed them.”– Danilo Gallinari
Although the Knicks did not give the nation their best performance in the loss to the Heat, they showed consistency and did not embarrass themselves which was a minor victory in and of itself. Once again their performance showed that they will win by defensive effort, not because of the mythological powers of the so-called “D’Antoni Offense.”
The Knicks played superb defense against Dwyane Wade (30 pts.) for much of the game. Wade was denied one-on-one interior penetration for the most part of the game although he eventually took over with some excellent jump shooting (with a spectacular dunk sandwiched somewhere in between) and deft passing off the double teams. Wade, who says he was looking for his spots had a very balanced game with 30 points, 5 assists, 4 steals and 8 boards.
Unlike the Chicago win, the Knicks were a bit more consistent in this contest although the Heat lead hit double digits. While the offense faltered (17.8% from the arc, 32 of 78 overall), the defense kept the Knicks alive, but the Heat defense was as good or better especially after Jeffries was replaced in the third quarter by Al Harrington when the Heat had a 9 point lead. The lead hovered around double digits until the 3:30 mark in the fourth quarter. A Gallo tre reduced the lead to 5 with 2:04 remaining and a twelve footer by Lee, with little over a minute left, knocked the lead to 3 before the Heat iced it with a short O’Neal jumper.
Although Gallo scored 26 points on 8-18 shooting, his three point shooting was putrid. He only hit 3 of 11. The troubling thing is that many of the shots were wide open. He, like Chandler, would benefit the Knicks by playing closer to the basket and using their ability to get to the basket to greater advantage. Gallo is improving. He no longer simply sets or sits on the arc waiting for a pass and he works to make his own shot. He rarely gets a shot off on the drive but it is the result of him being fouled so quickly. He is an awkward cover and when he doesn’t throw his off hand to block a defender, he gets the foul call.
Perhaps the offensive key for the Knicks, along with missed shots, was Duhon’s lack of aggression. Once again he played a single digit game both statistically and actually. In double digit minutes (36), duhon scored 7 points on 2-6 shooting and had 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Neither Nate Robinson nor Toney Douglas entered the game as D’Antoni stuck to an eight player rotation. Hughes (18 minutes) was also ineffective offensively with 3 points on 0-3 shooting.