Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 1/28/12

Visibly playing through the pain of ankle and wrist injuries, Carmelo Anthony finally relented, accepting that he can longer perform his "superhero" act.
The pain proved to be too much for Anthony, forcing him to sit against the Miami Heat on Friday. Dwyane Wade, though he had missed the last six previous, returned for the Heat.
In fact, Wade returned in a big way for the Heat, who ultimately overpowered the Knicks for a 99-89 victory. Wade poured in 28 points, while LeBron James scored 31 points to lead all scorers in the win.
The Knicks were able to keep the pace, however, by hoisting up as many three point field goals as they possibly could. Truly living on a prayer, New York threw up an astounding 43 shots from long range, sinking 18 to keep them in the game. That charge was led by Bill Walker, who sank 7 threes, two off the team record of nine.
All this allowed the Knicks to do was stay in the game until the very end. While doing this is no easy feat against the Heat, the team simply did not have enough momentum to carry them all the way through the fourth quarter in order to get a win. All things considered, it was an all-around decent effort, but Anthony was sorely needed to ultimately power through this one.

Of course, the Knicks had some struggles that led to the loss itself. Toney Douglas continued to prove he's not fit to start, shooting a difficult to watch 6 for 18 from the field. Though he did sink four shots from long range as the Knicks fought to stay in the game, his let down late in the fourth quickly killed any momentum the team had.
An inconsistent shooter to say the least, Douglas is not (and should not be expected to be) a fourth quarter player. Without Anthony, a proven star in the clutch, things fell apart late in the game for the Knicks.
Landry Fields and Amar'e Stoudemire both had less than impressive offensive outings, but the three ball allowed the Knicks to stay in it until the likes of James and Wade took over.
Though this game was won for the Heat by its stars, it was lost by the Knicks largely in part due to their less than balanced attack. Though Walker finished with 21 points, without Anthony, the Knicks' rotation was unable to maintain what was needed for a victory. No one stepped up to help Walker as he cooled off and ultimately fouled out in the fourth.
The Knicks' bench, aside from Walker, finished the game having shot 4 for 19 from the field. When their star is down, the team can only hope they have enough depth to provide a boost, but the Knicks simply do not, with the likes of Bibby shooting 2 for 8 from downtown, and the little-used Steve Novak only sinking 2 of 6 from deep.
If they want to rise up as a contender, the Knicks need to take note of the depth the Heat has built around their stars. In my latest piece for the "Off the Dribble" NBA blog at The New York Times', I suggest a plan of action:

After assembling their own core of stars, the Knicks should take note of what the Heat has done. New York needs role players who have experience and are not afraid to take the big shot if needed. This squad needs specialty players: 3-point shooters, defenders and ball-handlers.

Right now, relying on younger talent will not make the Knicks a championship contender. Perhaps the team should focus its attention on convincing available veterans that the opportunity to play for a title is worth a discounted salary.


The Heat may have a lot of star power, but it was strong contributions from their bench, including two crucial three-pointers drained by sharpshooting veteran Shane Battier that helped sink the Knicks.

If the now 7-12 Knicks ever want to reach the status the Heat will continue to reach, they need to focus on surrounding their stars with the right players, because it is obvious the likes of Stoudemire and Anthony cannot do it all. With Anthony out, the Knicks certainly needed a thorough pick-me-up, and they did not receive that for 48 full minutes last night.

The team will aim to avenge their loss in Miami by beating the Rockets in Houston tonight, where Anthony is expected to sit out once again.

And as always, you can ready my latest piece at "Off the Dribble" by clicking here.


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