Mike D'Antoni's New York Knicks are off and running — and a couple of former core players could only sit and watch.
Jamal Crawford scored 29 points, Zach Randolph added 20, and the Knicks beat the Miami Heat 120-115 on Wednesday night in their first game under D'Antoni.
Wilson Chandler had 17 points and nine rebounds, and David Lee and Quentin Richardson each scored 16 points for New York. Relying just as much on solid defense as D'Antoni's uptempo offense, the Knicks seized control late in the second quarter, opened a 23-point lead in the third, then held on after the Heat got within three points in the final minute.
"I just liked the overall play," D'Antoni said. "I think those last five minutes ... we kind of shut it down. We can't do that. We're not that good to be able to do that."
And they did it without former coach Isiah Thomas' two prized acquisitions, Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry. D'Antoni kept both former starters on the bench, ignoring rather loud chants of "We want Steph! We want Steph!" late in the third quarter. Curry spent the final period in the training room icing a sore right knee.
"He should do whatever he feels he should do. I can't control what he does. He's the coach," said Marbury, who said he understood D'Antoni's decision. "If this is what it is, I mean there's always next year."
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in his return to regular-season action for the Heat, but fouled out on what appeared to be a good block of Crawford's 3-pointer with 1:25 left after Miami closed within six.
Udonis Haslem added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat in rookie coach Erik Spoelstra's debut. Spoelstra, 37, became the youngest head coach in the NBA when he replaced Pat Riley.
Rookie Michael Beasley, the No. 2 pick in the draft, had only nine points on 4-of-14 shooting for the Heat. Mario Chalmers also started, giving the Heat two rookies in the opening night lineup for the first time since Wade and Haslem started on Oct. 28, 2003, against Philadelphia.
"We started the game so slow. By the time we woke up, it was too late," Beasley said
D'Antoni replaced Thomas, bringing his entertaining offensive style that led the Phoenix Suns to an average of 58 wins the last four seasons. The Knicks quickly picked up the system, scoring 106.9 points per game in the preseason, and were even better in the opener.
New York is coming off a miserable 23-59 last season, its seventh straight sub-.500 finish. D'Antoni won't promise a winning team yet, but he did vow the Knicks would play hard and be entertaining, and that was certainly true on opening night.
D'Antoni also has made it clear he values the Knicks' future as much as their present, which is why Marbury and Curry, who won't be part of that future, found themselves out of the rotation.
"There's certain guys I want to see and make sure and it's a delicate situation. Steph's been great. It hasn't been his fault," D'Antoni said. "I know he's not going to be happy about it and I wouldn't be either, but the team goes on two different tracks. One is for the future and one is for trying to win now.
"I know it's not a great situation for him and so is Eddy, it's not a great situation. But nothing is closed. No door is closed. We'll see how it goes forward."
The Heat were an NBA-worst 15-67 last season, and they'll be in for another long year if they can't find more help from Wade, who was visibly frustrated in the third quarter after firing a pass out of bounds.
Wade hadn't played a regular-season game since March, before the Heat decided to shut him down for the season so he could rest his surgically repaired knee before playing in the Olympics. He was only 9-of-24, perhaps trying to do too much while his teammates struggled for so long.
"I've been on a team like this before and I understand when it goes well, it can go well," Wade said. "And I also know when it goes bad, it can go bad, from last season. So just trying to figure out our identity."
Also returning to action was Shaun Livingston, who appeared in his first game since suffering a massive left knee injury while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 26, 2007. He had two points in 4 minutes.
New York used a 19-3 run in the second quarter to build a 56-42 cushion. Beasley's 3-pointer cut it to 10 with 8:21 left in the third, but New York scored 13 straight over the next 4:20 for an 84-61 bulge.
Daequan Cook helped make it a close finish, making three 3-pointers and finishing with 13 points for the Heat.