Before Thursday's game, Amar'e Stoudemire said that his election as an All-Star starter was actually a team award because players need to be on good teams to get that kind of notice. He went on to prove it during the game against the Heat.
With the Garden on its collective feet and rocking as the Knicks clung to a two-point lead, Stoudemire drove into the mouth of the Heat defense. As they'd done all night, the Heat brought, er, the heat to bear on the begoggled one near the basket to stop him from beating them. Stoudemire stopped, rose and flicked a pass to the three-point line. Landry Fields caught the ball, threw up his patented arcless wonder and the roof nearly came off when it went through for a five-point lead with 49 seconds to play.
All the attention paid to Stoudemire also opened things up for Danilo Gallinari. Often overlooked as an offensive cog, Gallo knocked down a pair of huge threes in the fourth quarter and made the most of other opportunities afforded by the Heat's belief that Amar'e wouldn't be the guy to beat them. The first gave the Knicks their first lead of the second half and came with a defender draped all over him. It was a shot taken by a man with some grandi castagne (big chestnuts, for those of you unfamiliar with Gallo's mother tongue) and one he repeated a bit later to give the Knicks the lead that Fields extended.
Still, it was fitting that Fields drove the dagger into Miami's heart, because he was responsible for keeping the Knicks' heart beating through three dismal quarters. Fields finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in a performance that saw the Knicks outscore their visitors by 14 points when he was on the floor.
Still, the Heat, playing without Chris Bosh, opened up a nine-point lead entering the fourth because the Knicks couldn't shoot and continued their season-long boycott against trying to rebound. The lead seemed even larger because it came with LeBron James having one of his worst games. James shot 7-of-24 from the field and struggled to work free from some surprisingly good defense by Shawne Williams. Dwyane Wade carried the team as his migraine headaches and new goggles apparently made him able to hit shots from absurd angles.
The Knicks didn't let that stop them, nor did they let the continuing struggles of Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton stop them. They fought and scrapped and found a way to end James's personal 10-game winning streak against them. Stoudemire was a big part of that, but his words at the start of the night proved prophetic as he never looked more like an All-Star then when he let someone else hit the big bucket.