Apparently, Mike Woodson was wrong.
The Knicks don't need to be healthy to compete with the Heat. They can beat Miami when they're banged up.
An undermanned Knicks team manhandled the Heat on Thursday night in a 102-92 win at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points. Iman Shumpert had 12 big points (all in the second half) and Raymond Felton added 13 points and 14 assists as the Knicks (13-22) won their third straight game. They are 4-1 in 2014.
Woodson said on Wednesday that he thought the Knicks could compete with the Heat if they were fully healthy. But the Knicks didn't have Tyson Chandler (illness) and Beno Udrih (knee). And Woodson chose not to play reigning Sixth Man J.R. Smith.
Despite the personnel issues, New York still trounced Miami thanks to solid ball movement (25 assists on 44 makes) and strong rebounding (the Knicks outrebounded Miami by 11).
Did J.R. get benched? Smith was healthy enough to play on Thursday but Woodson elected to keep him on the bench. It was unclear if the benching was a punishment for Smith's most recent transgression.
The NBA fined him $50,000 for "recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct" on Wednesday following his attempts to untie opponents' shoes in recent Knicks games.
Woodson wouldn't address Smith's transgressions before the game.
Melo mania: The Knicks whom Woodson put on the floor played pretty well, starting with Anthony. He had two big 3-pointers in the third quarter to help the Knicks build a four-point lead heading into the fourth. Anthony then poured in nine points in the fourth to help New York seal the win.
Shumpert added three 3s in the third. Andrea Bargnani added 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting in one of his best performances as a Knick.
Defending LeBron: With Smith out, Woodson relied on Anthony to defend LeBron James. James finished with 32 points on just 17 shots but turned the ball over six times. The Knicks forced the Heat into 15 turnovers and turned it over just 10 times.
What's next: The Knicks play the Sixers in Philadelphia on Saturday.
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