Knicks win battle of Big 3s

The new-look New York Knicks made a statement Sunday night as they rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat the Miami Heat, proving that their "Big 3" should not be overlooked.

Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire have been receiving most of the attention lately, but it was Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups, who was instrumental in turning down the Heat in Miami.

Billups entered the fourth quarter with 8:55 remaining in the game and the Knicks down by five points. In that span Billups went 3-for-5 with 7 points, and as an on-ball defender held his opponent to 0-for-3 and a turnover. He also had two steals in that span, including one on a Chris Bosh pass with 47 seconds left that lead to two free throws by Shawne Williams. Billups finished the game with 16 points and has made a three-point field goal in 19 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak.

Anthony finished with a game-high 29 points and 9 rebounds. Eleven of Anthony’s 29 points came on isolation plays. He trails only Kobe Bryant for the most points off isolation plays this season.

Carmelo Anthony

AnthonyThis was Anthony’s third straight 25-point game, and the Elias Sports Bureau tells us that only five other players in NBA history have scored at least 25 points in each of their first three or more games for one team: Wilt Chamberlain, for the Philadelphia Warriors (1959, first 10 games); Walt Bellamy, for the Chicago Packers (1961); Dan Issel for the Denver Nuggets (1976); Dominique Wilkins for the Los Angeles Clippers (1994, first four games); and Glenn Robinson for the Atlanta Hawks (2002).

While Anthony’s offense certainly kept the Knicks in the game, it was his defensive presence that may have put the game away. Anthony was asked to guard LeBron James in the fourth quarter, and the defensive switch paid off for the Knicks. James was 1-for-4 when Anthony was the on-ball defender during the final five minutes of the game, including on Miami’s final two field goal attempts.

Carmelo Anthony vs LeBron James
When Guarded by the Other, On Ball

Anthony wasn’t the only Knick to lock down on defense. New York held Miami under 40 percent shooting in the half court over the final three quarters. For some perspective, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks shot a combined 46 percent in the half court during the Knicks previous two games.

Perhaps the clinching moment of the game was Stoudemire’s block on James' driving lay-up with seven seconds to play.

The Elias Sports Bureau says it was only the third time in James’ career that he had a shot blocked in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter (or overtime) with his team trying to erase a deficit or three points or less. The others came in a span of 12 days in April 2008, on blocks by Joakim Noah and Samuel Dalembert.

Despite his team falling short, James scored 27 points, including nine in transition on 4-5 shooting. James’ nine transition points, combined with two from Dwyane Wade, knots the two for the NBA lead. Speaking of Wade, he finished with just 12 points and five turnovers. Overall, Miami's "Big 3" combined for 13 of the team’s 20 turnovers.

The loss snaps the Heat's 7-game home win streak and drops the team to 5-11 in games decided by five points or fewer.