MIAMI—In the days leading up to the Knicks' playoff series against the Miami Heat, there was, somehow, optimism. There was a stream of "anything can happen" talking points, and Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Friday that when a team is counted out by everyone, as the Knicks are here, "something always amazingly happens."
LeBron James scored 32 points as the Heat throttled the Knicks in Game 1 of their playoff series Saturday.
Something did, in fact, happen Saturday: The Knicks lost by 33 points and had one of their most disastrous games in recent memory. The Heat spent 48 minutes reminding the Knicks that there is no such thing as an NBA Cinderella while the Knicks spent the day reminding everyone how flawed they are.
Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks star, made three of his 15 shots and finished with 11 points in 33 minutes. Tyson Chandler, who was a game-time decision with the flu, scored zero points in 21 minutes but managed to pick up four offensive fouls in one half. He was also whistled for a flagrant for awkwardly barreling into LeBron James, who in turn went on a frenzied nine-point run that opened the game up and led to him finishing with 32 points. Then the afternoon got worse, with rookie Iman Shumpert going to a local hospital with a serious knee injury.
The Knicks have now lost 11 straight playoff games—their last playoff win came in 2001—and that streak is tied for the second-worst NBA postseason losing skid of all time. Their 67 points tied the franchise low for points in a playoff game. Oh, and their 27 turnovers tied a playoff franchise record, too.
"They hit us in the mouth," Woodson said after the game. "So we need to see what we are made of."
The 100-67 drubbing was never close after a 24-18 first quarter. While much will be made about the officiating—the Heat had 33 free throws to the Knicks' 15—the bulk of the Knicks' problems came on offense, where James outscored the combined total of New York's starters. Though he had plenty of athletic plays, especially during his second-quarter run, James' most symbolic play came at the end of the third quarter with Anthony guarding him tightly. James had Anthony's hand in his face and just two seconds left on the clock, so he simply shot what look to be an ill-advised shot. It went in, of course, because everything went in Saturday. The three made it 81-47.
The game may have been historically bad if not for J.R. Smith's team-high 17 points. For the Heat, Dwyane Wade had 19, and Chris Bosh had nine. One crucial problem was Chandler's weak state from the illness, which led Woodson to say Friday that he'd be a "strong possibility to miss the game." Chandler was hooked up to IVs for fluid after the game and said he "wasn't able to do the things I'm normally able to do." He fumbled two easy passes near the basket and was called for two charges.
"He wasn't himself out there," said forward Amar'e Stoudemire. "I can tell. Tyson is very, very vocal, and tonight he didn't quite have it. There were a couple of easy baskets he couldn't finish. He felt a little dizzy out there the whole game."
Stoudemire also struggled, scoring just nine points and making two of his seven shots. It was his fourth consecutive playoff game in which he shot under 30%.
Things unraveled for the Knicks quickly. Stoudemire, Woodson and Anthony were all called for technical fouls, and Anthony characterized things as "getting out of hand." During the run, Woodson said, "all hell broke loose." Whatever the case, the game was chippy and looked like a mild version of the mid-90s Knicks-Heat rivalry, but without the fistfights and without the Knicks having a chance.
Anthony said the team was "rushing a lot of things out there" and never found a rhythm. He was slowed for most of the game by Shane Battier, whom Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised. But he added a warning: Anthony, Spoelstra said, will be back. The Knicks hope so.
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