LeBron got going early with a series of highlights in transition, then overheated a bit with a few too many heat checks and step-back jumpers. After that, LeBron settled into an equilibrium as scorer and facilitator. But with the game on the line in the final two possessions, LeBron couldn't beat Carmelo Anthony, had his potential game-winning shot blocked by Amare Stoudemire and also missed a 3-pointer.
At his best, Wade moved around the court with purpose -- posting up Anthony Carter, making strong basket cuts and driving to the hole in transition. But Wade was a notable contributor to the sloppiness -- his patented jump-pass, some uncharacteristic over-dribbling. When the game required patience and a calming influence, Wade was at his most hyper and was essentially a non-factor.
That draft Heat fans felt at AmericanAirlines Arena was Chris Bosh exhaling after one of his most horrendous shooting slumps in recent years. Bosh re-established the old confidence from midrange, and helped re-establish order at the start of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, he also threw the ball into the hands of Chauncey Billups during a crucial possession in the game's final minute.
The Heat gave up 16 unanswered points to the Knicks to close the first half. It was an ugly combination of lazy offense and careless defense. At the conclusion of the third, the Heat didn't generate one shot in the paint in the final 5:49 of the quarter. Then, up six with 3:00 left in the game, the Heat allowed a 9-0 run by the Knicks that allowed New York to wrest control of the game.
They have a ways to go before they fill out their playbook, but the Knicks deserve a ton of credit for their resiliency, particularly when it looked like the Heat might blow them out of the building early. Anthony reminded us that there isn't a more forceful isolation player in the game, and Billups provided further evidence that calling him a throw-in or afterthought is a grave insult. And how about that defense in the closing minute?