MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Norris Cole #30 of the Miami Heat guards Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 23, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Miami Heat sure can shut down a pick-and-roll, as Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks learned in their 102-88 loss in South Beach on Thursday.
Jeremy Lin has picked apart some truly focused defenses, but until Thursday night, he hadn't faced anything quite like the Miami Heat. Miami shut down Lin's pick and roll game, held the New York Knicks to just 39 percent shooting as a team, and built an insurmountable lead in the third quarter. They kept the Knicks at arm's length throughout the second half to emerge with a 102-88 victory.
New York's game since Lin has taken over the point guard reins has been all about making things happen off the pick and roll. The Heat, unlike any team the Knicks have faced in a few weeks, made it so that nothing could happen off that pick and roll. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole hounded Lin mercilessly in the backcourt, and defensive mastermind Joel Anthony prowled around the paint to cut off Lin's passing lanes and play goalie when he found a roller. Lin finished with just eight points on 1-11 shooting to go with an unsightly eight turnovers and just three assists. His preferred pick and roll targets, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire, got only seven shot attempts apiece -- a testament to just how brilliantly the Heat closed off the paint.
On their own end of the floor, Miami started somewhat slowly, but got Chris Bosh going early and often. Bosh gave Chandler all kinds of problems with his left-handed attack and excellence from medium range, and he led the Heat with 25 points. Dwyane Wade added 22, while LeBron James, middling in pretty much every aspect of the game, finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and [deep breath] two blocks. My, that's a lot of things.
The Heat as a team made their big push in that third quarter. They held New York to just four field goals in the period and, on offense, got themselves heaps of second opportunities, while burning the Knicks from the perimeter. Miami's lead cracked double digits early in the third and didn't drop below six points the rest of the way.
The Miami win was, incredibly, their eighth double-digit victory in a row, and they'll head into the All-Star break as the best team in the Eastern Conference at 27-7. New York dropped to 17-18, back below .500, with the loss.