NEW YORK -- To 'Melo or not to 'Melo? That is the question hanging over the Knicks as they approach the trade deadline. Thursday night's 93-88 win over the Heat may not have answered that question, but it did provide a measuring stick as to where this team stands in the Eastern Conference pecking order. Let's take a look at a few things we learned about the Knicks.
The Knicks aren't one of those lucky clubs, but they did manage to find a way on Thursday. Amar'e Stoudemire scored only two points in the fourth quarter, yet Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields combined for 17. The Knicks shot 23.1 percent from three-point range entering the final period, but connected on 5-of-7 in the closing 12 minutes.
New York won't be able to count on the emotion of a pumped-up crowd every night, but the fact that it was able to topple a quality opponent despite an off night from Raymond Felton, a dismal night from the floor (36.1 percent) and James' late 10-point flurry may go a long way in sending this team toward the playoffs with a legitimate chance at reaching Round 2.
In the fourth quarter, the Knicks collapsed, as best they could, on Wade, trying at least to make his forays to the hoop uncomfortable. "He finally missed a few shots," coach Mike D'Antoni said of Wade. "He's human. We just kept trying to tighten it up and help as much as we could."
Most important, the Knicks slowed the pace, working their offense carefully for a good look and getting a chance to set their defense on the other end. "The first two games [New York played Miami], we got caught by surprise at how fast they are and the way they play," Stoudemire said. "They are very aggressive, very quick, very fast and very strong. Tonight we put a total 48-minute game together and got the win."