WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks are not, repeat, not an elite team. Nor could they hang with this particular elite team for more than a half. The building was buzzing like it hadn't in years during a first half that ended with the score tied 57-57, but LeBron James sapped the life out of the crowd with a 14-point third quarter in which the Heat outscored New York 33-17. Folks were streaming toward the exits with more than three minutes left, Timofey Mozgov entered shortly thereafter to signal the waving of the white flag, and the Knicks went down to what was a truly humbling defeat given how high their expectations were going into this one.
TURNING POINT: The above-referenced third quarter, when James and his teammates shot 14-for-24 and outrebounded the Knicks 16-9 while New York was shooting only 7-for-23. "There is not a spotlight I can't handle or a situation I can't handle," James said before the game. He then went out and produced a triple-double of 32 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: For the Knicks, there really wasn't one. Danilo Galinari had 21 first-half points but finished with just 25, and Amare Stoudemire's streak of 30-plus point games ended at nine as he was held to 24. The Heat also did a nice job shutting down Raymond Felton, who looked much more mortal than he had over the past two weeks in getting held to eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.
ELITE QUESTION: In the past two weeks, coach Mike D'Antoni has gone from saying the Knicks were not fooling themselves into believing they are an elite team to saying his squad can compete with anybody. Yes, anybody. Why the sudden swing in his opinion? "Amare has shown things that are incredible the last two weeks, and we can get better at it. So I'm excited about the team. I know we're not quite there yet. When I'm playing guys 40-something minutes per night, we're not quite there. That's just too many minutes right now, and we have to figure that out. But on any given night I can play 'em 45 and we're that. So a lot of things go into it, but I'm comfortable with where we are now. It'll be a great test tonight and the next couple weeks."
WHAT'S NEXT: The second night of another of the Knicks' 21 back-to-backs, a road game in Cleveland against a Cavs team (7-19) that lost its 10th consecutive game Friday night.