Jeremy Lin finally hit a roadblock, for the first time since becoming a starter for the New York Knicks, in the form of the red hot Miami Heat and LeBron James. Lin was completely shut down by the team with the best record in the Eastern conference, while the big three all scored at least 20 points and the Heat won for the eight straight time in double digits, 102-88.
Jeremy Lin is the hottest name in the NBA, but he certainly didn’t look that way as the Heat’s plan of focusing on Lin and shutting him down worked to perfection. Lin finished with 8 points while shooting 1-11 from the field. He had only 3 assists, while turning the ball over 8 times, in a point guard disease that continues to plague him as he develops his NBA career.
LeBron James, on the other side of the ball, finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. The last time an NBA player pulled this kind of stat line was LeBron James himself in 2008. MVP worthy anyone? He didn’t do it alone, of course. This was the first time this season that Bosh, Wade and James all scored 20 points or more, something that happened 21 times last season, with the Heat posting a 18-3 record in those games.
As often speculated, how will Lin and the on a roll Knicks handle a top notch defense, they struggled, mightily. Without their overnight superstar to navigate, they relied on Carmelo Anthony to try and create. Carmelo did lead the scoring with 19 points (only 7-20 from the field) but it was clear this isn’t a team the Knicks are equipped of playing an evenly matched game with. Amar’e Stoudemire struggled to come up with decent shots or dominate in the paint, finishing with 13 points and 5 rebounds.
The Heat? Well, they didn’t need much scoring from the helping crew, just defense. Shane Battier did his thing, Udonis Haslem grabbed nine rebounds off the bench and Norris Cole had the usual 10 points everyone is used to getting from him.
Something about how the Heat handled Lin reminded me of a game from 20 years ago. One, was the 1992 Olympic games, and the first USA – Croatia match. Toni Kukoc was a future Chicago Bulls players, waiting for his contract in Europe to expire. Scottie Pippen was never a big fan of his arrival, and completely annihilated him defensively. The Heat came out to prove a point, and Lin didn’t know what hit him.
Chalmers, Cole and James in terms of blocking passing lanes made it a nightmarish game for the Knicks and their point guard, who got a true taste of what an elite NBA defense does to teams that don’t deserve the hype they’re getting. The Knicks have a long way to go, just like Carmelo Anthony said at the end of the game, before they can thing of challenging for the top spot in the East.