Heat Check: Shorthanded and amid stress, Miami eviscerates Knicks
With just nine available players, it was all hands on deck for the Miami Heat in their 111-87 victory against the New York Knicks on Friday.
A day after swinging a three-team trade that left two roster spots open, coupled with the Chris Bosh’s hospitalization, those who were available easily outplayed the league-worst Knicks.
Bosh’s absence was felt, but the team was aided by the return of Dwyane Wade (12 points, four rebounds) after missing seven games and a rejuvenated Hassan Whiteside (12 points, nine rebounds), now fully recovered from an ankle ailment.
Udonis Haslem turned in a vintage performance in his third start of the season with a season-high 13 points, and rookie point guard Shabazz Napier finished with a season-high 18 points along with six assists, seven rebounds and seven turnovers.
Miami moved the ball around with a purpose, recording 28 assists on their 38 made field field goals. The Heat also out-rebounded the Knicks 50-32.
"We liked that it was a team effort," head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You hear this all the time that this league is a business but that doesn’t mean you don’t go through a lot of emotions as players and staff. We’ve been through a lot in the last 24 hours, a lot of change, but guys were able to compartmentalize and come together and just focus on the task at hand."
Miami’s dominance was so thorough that Wade was not needed in the fourth quarter, especially helpful in his first game back in three weeks and on the first night of a back-to-back.
"It was very nice to become a cheerleader," Wade said. "Everyone had their opportunity to make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and just play well. In our first game from the break, everybody contributed to get the win versus a team we should beat."
The victory pulls them ahead to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference a half-game ahead of the Charlotte Hornets.
THE TURNING POINT
Miami turned it up at the end of the third quarter after the Knicks cut it to single digits. They went on a 14-4 run to turn the game into a blowout heading into the final quarter.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Mario Chalmers had one of his best games of the season with 13 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. His eight steals were the most in the NBA this season and one shy of his career high set as a rookie in 2008 — which also set the franchise record.
STAT OF THE GAME
Goran and Zoran Dragic are scheduled to make their Heat debuts when Miami hosts the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.