- Last Updated: 2:00 AM, December 18, 2010
- Posted: 9:35 PM, December 17, 2010
A deafening, electric Garden crowd became quietly disappointed tonight in the third quarter when Miami's hated Dream Team and the despised LeBron James showed how good they can be and Amar'e Stoudemire showed even he can have an off evening.
James posted a triple-double and after a 57-57 first half filled with boos, chants and throbbing noise as the Heat took over the game with a 33-17 period and posted a 113-91 victory to temporarily quiet the buzz of the Knick renaissance.
James finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, shooting 14 of 23. He could be a free agent again in 2015 but he could have been King of New York now. Stoudemire finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 11 of 28, as his record streak of nine straight 30-point games was snapped. He was 2 of 7 from the line.
After the Knicks third-quarter-from-hell, James slowly put on his warmup suit on the Heat bench, looking as if he had conquered France. James scored 14 points in the third, including four straight buckets in the final three minutes.
James certainly conquered the Garden, much like he conquered Cleveland on his return Dec. 2. The Garden greeted him with thunderous boos during pregame intros and heavy boos each time he touched the ball in the first half. The Garden was as loud in the first half as it's been since the 1999 Finals and was perhaps the hottest ticket since that run. But during the fourth quarter, there was nothing left and it became a normal regular-season game again.
The hostile reaction was deserved as the Knicks brass spent two years clearing cap space for James, but he declined joining Stoudemire in New York, a union that could have meant the Knicks becoming a championship contender. Instead, they surely need another big piece to compete, perhaps Carmelo Anthony.
After a terrific showing vs. Boston in a last-second loss Wednesday, the Knicks were outclassed in the second half as they fell to 16-11. Stoudemire had an awful time of it – especially from the line when he started the night 0 for 5. Missing a pair of free throws in the third quarter served as a big momentum killer for the Knicks, who play in Cleveland tomorrow night, the same Cavaliers team that rolled over and died in James' historic visit Dec. 2.
While James was booed loudly on every touch, Chris Bosh heard the only chants in the first half. When he went to the foul line on two occasions, the Garden thundered with "Overrated'' chants.
The Knicks reverted to their old play in the third quarter and James dominated them like he was a Cavalier again. They couldn't make a stop. After one James jumper, he stared down Spike Lee, who was sitting courtside. James and Lee had words early in the game.
Gallinari lost his first-half roll. He missed a wild lefty slam, then shot a near airball on a 3-pointer. The spree was capped by Dwyane Wade's drive down the lane for a hard slam.
After the timeout, James got back on the court, gave a thumbs up to press row behind the baseline , then yelled something at the Heat bench as he took the inbounds pass. He raced up court and spun past Landry Fields for a pretty layup. On the next possession, James hit a 20-footer and the Heat got up 86-72. James cut in the lane for a pullup jumper, then hit another jumper and yet another.
The Heat rushed out to a 13-point lead early as James hit 6 of his first 8 shots, mostly on fallaway jumpers. James did not appear anxious to drive to the hoop in the first half, perhaps knowing the revved-up Knicks have become a fierce shotblocking team and he didn't need to do anything to further rile up the hostile crowd.
James finished with 16 first-half points, but scored just two in the second quarter when the Knicks outscored Miami 32-23 to forge a 57-57 halftime tie.
Danilo Gallinari led the first-half push and he finished with 21 first-half points. Gallinari, who had scored 20 in the second half vs. Boston, continued that momentum as he hit his first four shots. He was 6 of 8 – 4 of 5 from 3-point line. In ne sequence he buried a 3 , then knocked the ball off James on the defensive end for a Heat turnover.
The Knicks retook the lead 51-50 after Stoudemire missed in the lane, but the ravenous rookie Landry Fields secured the rebound and laid it home, with the Garden exploding. After James collided into Stoudemire on a drive and missed the runner – no call – Chandler got loose for a fastbreak dunk as the arena's ceiling shook from the noise.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called timeout and Stoudemire waved his arms for the crowd to get even louder.Follow @NYPostsports