Heat clamp down on defense, destroy Knicks

(The Sports Xchange) – The Miami Heat’s sputtering offence continued but they used an improving defense to defeat the New York Knicks 95-78 on Monday.

Miami, spurred by a 36-8 run in the first half, led by as many as 26 points and held on rather comfortably. The Heat snapped the Knicks’ four-game win streak, holding them to 32-percent shooting from the floor. “They are a good defensive team, that’s one part of it — they make it difficult for you to score,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said when asked about his team’s offense’s futility. “Offensively we weren’t as organised. We were trying to take it to them instead of reading the defense and seeing what was available.”

Miami got 16 points each from guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh. No-one has scored more than 30 points in a game all season for the Heat.

Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade

“It’s just about the team — it’s not about the numbers,” Wade said of the unimpressive offensive statistics. Heat center Hassan Whiteside had 11 points, 11 rebounds and a game-high five blocks, while point guard Goran Dragic added 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “It was fitting that there wasn’t a quote-unquote star of the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“It was more of a group effort. Our defense was probably our best of this homestand.”

The Heat cooled off the Knicks but not rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 20 points, pulled in a game-high 14 rebounds and made two blocks. It was his seventh double-double of the season. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 21 points and added eight rebounds.

Miami’s reserves totalled 30 points, including 12 from guard Tyler Johnson, who said there was a reason why the Heat defended so well against New York.

“It was the communication,” Johnson said. “You could hear everybody talking.”

New York could only get as close as 12 points in the fourth quarter as Miami’s relentless defense meant they were never really threatened.

“It’s not easy defending in this league,” Spoelstra said. “There are so many good, talented offensive players and teams, and the way they spread you out now, it takes a full team commitment.”

Wade credits Spoelstra and Whiteside as two keys in Miami’s ability to get stops.

“We knew (that by) having a great shot blocker (Whiteside), we could be a good defensive team,” Wade said. “(Spoelstra) did a couple of tweaks in what we’ve been doing. And in this early part of the season, it’s been working for us.”



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