Heat defense silences Linsanity, Knicks in win
MIAMI – Dwyane Wade shut off the TV at home. Then the Miami Heat shut down Jeremy Lin.
Linsanity has had a great run. But after a while it merely was causing insanity for the Heat guard.
“Early on, he deserved it,” Wade said of round-the-clock coverage on the New York Knicks sensation. “Then it kept going and kept going. I mean, I like the kid as a fan, but there’s only so much I can listen to. So my ESPN ratings at my house were down a little bit.”
Ratings might be going down a bit everywhere now when it comes to Lin thanks to Miami’s stifling defense. In a 102-88 win Thursday night over the Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena, the point guard was held to eight points on 1-of-11 shooting while turning the ball over eight times.
Lin wasn’t the only one who struggled. The Knicks shot 39.2 percent, had 10 of their shots blocked (five by Heat center Joel Anthony) and committed 19 turnovers.
Miami’s defense was so good it apparently even shut up Knicks’ No. 1 fan Spike Lee, who sat courtside wearing a Landry Fields jersey.
“Not at all,” Wade said when asked if he heard Lee say anything during a game the Heat controlled from start to finish. “I didn’t hear him.”
Lee was not happy. After the game, he walked with frustration out of AmericanAirlines Arena, ignoring gloating Heat fans.
“We turned the ball over 19 (bleeping) times,” Lee said to FOX Sports Florida. “How are you going to win?”
Actually, when the Heat plays defense the way they have lately, how is anybody supposed to win?
Miami got its eighth straight win. All of them have been by double digits and the average margin has been 16.5 points.
Yes, Chris Bosh had 25 points, Wade 22 and LeBron James 20, marking the first time all season each card-carrying member of the Big Three had reached 20 in the same game. But those guys mostly wanted to credit defense for their recent run and for Thursday’s big win.
“For us, our staple is defensively,” said James, whose five steals all came in the first half and set the tone for the game. “We just want to cause havoc on the defensive end.”
Havoc was created for Lin. The Heat ran bodies at him all game, starting with point guard Mario Chalmers and continuing with James and Norris Cole, among others.
“They did a great job of making me uncomfortable,” Lin said. “They were pushing me left. I think it was the speed and athleticism. But credit to them. Hopefully, when we play them next time it is a different story.”
That will be April 15. Stay tuned to see if the Heat will have lost another game by then or at least had a win by single digits.
Yes, Miami’s defense has been that good lately. During the eight-game winning streak, only once has a team scored more than 100 points and six times teams have been to 90 or less.
“We’re a dangerous team when we hold teams under their averages because it allows us to get out and run,” James said. “When we run, we’re kind of unbeatable because we get up the court so fast.”
At the start of season, it wasn’t like that. When they were 9-4, the Heat had allowed six teams to score more than 100, including watching Denver roll up 117.
It’s true Miami came out of the gates wanting to play at a more rapid pace this season. But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said a training camp shortened because of the lockout also played a role in his team needing some time to find its defensive niche.
“It is not an excuse, but to start this season with a shortened training camp and a very short preseason, we spent an inordinate amount of time on our offense,” said Spoelstra, whose team enters the All-Star break tied with Oklahoma City for the NBA’s best record at 27-7.
Entering Thursday’s game, the Heat spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for Lin, who had averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 assists during his incredible 11-game run, which featured the Knicks going 9-2.
“He deserves the attention,” said Bosh, whose Heat also held Carmelo Anthony to 7-of-20 shooting for his 19 points and forced Amare Stoudemire into six turnovers and just 13 points. “He’s been picking guys apart.”
He didn’t pick apart the Heat.
“If you have a guy like Jeremy who can score and also pick you apart if you just give him space, he’s going to murder you,” Wade said. “Our job was to tell our guards, ‘Let’s put pressure on the ball and make them run their offense a little farther out.”‘
Put it all together and the Heat did nothing to help future ratings after Lin took it on the chin.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson