Carmelo Anthony is having fun on these big game Sunday Night at the Garden, scoring 42 against the Miami Heat. It didn’t really help the New York Knicks that he was pretty much on his own, while LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 73 points, leading the Heat to a 93-85 victory.
Wins on the road haven’t been plentiful for the Heat lately. They were 3-8 away from home before this win, including some very tough losses, in double digits, against the Thunder, Pacers and the Celtics. Two losses against the Bulls came along as well, with and without Derrick Rose. The Heat, despite their shaky form of late, are a different team than last season.
The attitude, and the way they take it. There was a sense of tragedy a year ago when Miami fell and fell with big losses on the road and at home. Tales of men crying in the locker room. It wasn’t all a media hype. There was a feeling that the Big Three South Beach project was falling apart way too soon. There was a similar vibe this season a couple of weeks ago. But just by looking at Heat players after losses, after wins, you can tell the difference.
The big questions about wins at this stage, when the chances of catching up with the Bulls for Eastern home advantage seem slim, are what do the teams take from these games to the playoffs? Momentum, momentum, momentum. Nothing much else. It’s not about declaring you’re the better team. There’s no doubt the Heat are better than the Knicks. But it’s just about heading into the postseason with, hopefully, an impressive winning steak behind you.
I don’t think it means anything for the postseason. What it means is something about us and how we’ve been playing on the road as of late. We want to do a better job of it and the only way out is to get up, show up and collectively do better. (Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat head coach)
And to win these games, against superior teams, to win generally in the postseason, you need that unexpected production, probably from the bench. JR Smith did score 16 points, but that was all the help Anthony got. The bench added 8 more points while no one in the starting five but Carmelo finished with more than nine points. Landry Fields, Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert, who probably has his head spinning from all the recent praise, combined for 10 points, 4-18 from the field.
Credit? The Heat’s defense, but mostly a 18-3 run in the fourth quarter. The Knicks were up 79-75. But clutch, that thing people like to attach to certain players and not to James, comes in many shapes and forms. Coming back from fourth court deficits is part of being clutch, and no one can say LeBron (29 points, 10 rebounds) doesn’t know how to will his teams back from huge deficits in closing minutes. Finishing the job when it’s too close to call? There are probably better men than him at that in the league.