NEW YORK -- The chant started with under a minute to play on Sunday night.
"Let's go Heat! Let's go Heat! Let's go Heat!"
It was loud, it was unmistakable and it certainly got Carmelo Anthony's attention.
"How could you not hear it?" he said.
Those three words -- "Let's go Heat!" -- probably didn't sit well with New York Knicks owner James Dolan. And they definitely didn't sit well with Anthony.
"You're home, you don't want to hear that," Anthony said. "I'm assuming they were all Miami Heat fans. I want to believe that. I want to think that. I don't want to think it was New York Knicks fans. I was surprised. I was surprised, very surprised."
The brief chants served as a reminder of how dire things are for the Knicks right now. The club has dropped 14 of 17 games, including Sunday's 98-81 loss to the Heat.
There is no longer any hope of a playoff run. The Knicks were a .500 team on Jan. 20, before Anthony's knee soreness flared up and the free fall began.
Now, it's about developing Kristaps Porzingis, keeping Anthony healthy and seeing if the younger players on the roster have a future in the league.
It will be up to coach Kurt Rambis to decide how often Anthony, Porzingis, Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway play in this season's final 19 games. There are injury concerns with Anthony and Porzingis, so Rambis may have to proceed with caution.
On Sunday, after playing Anthony nearly 42 minutes, Rambis admitted he would "love to" cut the 31-year-old's playing time.
"I have no desire to play him almost 42 minutes," Rambis said. "That's not good for him.
"Don't like, don't want it. It puts a lot of wear and tear on him."
Rambis asked Anthony twice late in the game if he wanted to come out, and both times Anthony told the coach he didn't need a break.
"In my mind, he's doing a really good job in leading this team and showing people that he's in it, he's in it all the way," Rambis said. "He's trying to do whatever he can to help this team win and he's out there."
Anthony said his knee is not a concern at this point.
"I'm just trying to win basketball games," he said. "It's not about me worrying about my knee, worrying about anything else. If I feel good, I'm going to play."
On Sunday, Anthony shot just 9-for-24 and had little help from his teammates. Starters Porzingis, Jose Calderon and Galloway combined to shoot 10-for-36.
"We put too much pressure on Carmelo to have to create everything for us," Rambis said. "It probably wouldn't have been that way if other people had stepped up and been able to make shots.
"But when that's not happening, then he's got to shoulder the burden on all of that."
It's a burden Anthony has shouldered fairly frequently during his tenure in New York. Amar'e Stoudemire, who was billed as Anthony's sidekick when he arrived in town, was injured for a significant portion of his four-plus seasons of playing alongside Anthony. J.R. Smith was inconsistent and Tyson Chandler couldn't score enough to complement Anthony.
The Knicks hope to ease the scoring burden on Anthony this summer in free agency. But they will have a hard time selling any top-tier free agents on New York. The team is a combined 42-101 in the past two seasons.
So Anthony may have to "shoulder the burden" on offense with little help for at least another season as Porzingis develops.
For Knicks fans, that may be harder to take than the "Let's go Heat!" chants that permeated Madison Square Garden on Sunday.