LeBron James is built like someone who could play in the Super Bowl, and the way he was running at the Knicks Saturday night, they resorted to knocking him around and even tackling him.
Carmelo Anthony took down his good friend in the third quarter, but the Knicks couldn't take down the two-time defending champion Heat.
Latest Knicks stories
James played brilliantly in carrying Miami to a 106-91 win at Madison Square Garden that snapped the Knicks' winning streak at four games. They ended their eight-game homestand with a 4-4 record and lost for the 28th time in 47 games, matching their total for all of last season.
Stopping James Saturday night required a defensive maneuver from another sport, and Anthony obliged. "He was coming at me full speed," he said. "I got to get the first hit before he delivered a hit. As long as he was all right, that's all I care about. I got the foul, I stopped him."
Not for more than one play, though. James had 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals, and he didn't seem to care for Anthony's hard foul.
"That is not the first time I have been tackled," he said. "It shouldn't be a personal foul. It's not a basketball play. But at the same time, he wrapped me up and I don't think he intended for me to hit the ground."
James, who shot 13-for-22, helped spark a 14-3 run that put the game away. "LeBron was LeBron," Mike Woodson said. "He made every play down the stretch to help them secure the lead and walk out of this building with the win."
Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points, but Shane Battier and James took him out of his game with their defense. He started slowly, missed all three free throws after being fouled while taking a three-pointer and committed seven turnovers.
The Knicks couldn't afford to have Anthony not at the top of his game, especially given that they were at a disadvantage before the game even started. The Heat was embarrassed at home and on national television Wednesday by the Thunder, and Miami took it out on the Knicks.
The Heat shot 53.9 percent, took advantage of 18 Knicks turnovers and held double-digit leads in the second, third and fourth quarters. The biggest was 16 points in the fourth.
The Knicks were without top perimeter defender Iman Shumpert (sprained right shoulder), so Woodson gave J.R. Smith the assignment of trying to defend James at the outset. Didn't work.
Anthony was on James, too. But the Knicks didn't help enough on James and often looked helpless. "He's just so talented," said Smith, who scored 20 points. "Right hand, left hand, vision is unbelievable, speed. He's got the total package."
Dwyane Wade shot 10-for-15 and scored 22 points for Miami. Battier added 16.
Despite the Knicks' defensive woes and careless handling of the ball, they were in the game in the fourth quarter. They trailed 84-78 when Smith drove hard to the basket and was fouled with 9:04 left. But he hit only one free throw to make it a five-point game, and the Knicks fell apart from there, scoring three points in the next 6:01.
"We kept hanging in there," Woodson said. "But we just couldn't make plays."
"Whenever we got real close, they got about two, three stops in a row and then they scored on those," Smith said. "We just weren't able to counter for some reason."