Loud chants of “Let’s Go Heat” filled Madison Square Garden before the opening tip and were eventually drowned out by boos. By the end of the game, they grew louder.
Most of the Knicks’ fans had left at that point, so only the organist could cover the Miami chants.
The Knicks didn’t give their fans much to cheer about Sunday night. They were dominated by the Heat, 98-81, and lost for the 14th time in 17 games.
“How can you not hear that?” Carmelo Anthony said. “You’re home, you don’t want to hear that. 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 very surprised.”
The first three quarters started and ended similarly. Miami was aggressive and built a big lead and the Knicks finished quarters strong to stay in the game.
The Knicks (25-36) needed something to change drastically in the fourth quarter. But it didn’t.
Miami turned a four-point lead at the start of the fourth into a 19-point cushion late against the Knicks, who shot 36.8 percent for the game.
“We started relying on Carmelo too much,” Kurt Rambis said. “It puts too much pressure on him, too much pressure on our offense. We’re not hitting open guys.”
Dwyane Wade led Miami (33-26) with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Hassan Whiteside had 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Former Knicks savior Amar’e Stoudemire, who played his first game against his old team since being bought out last February, had eight points and seven rebounds.
Anthony scored 25 points. Robin Lopez finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Kristaps Porzingis had a poor shooting night. He was 4-for-13 with nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes. But he said it had nothing to do with the soreness in his knee that kept him out of practice Saturday.
“I didn’t think about the knee at all,” Porzingis said. “I was just missing a lot. I couldn’t find my rhythm and that was the tough part about his game. I was missing and my teammates couldn’t find their rhythm.
It was 69-65 at the start of the fourth, but the Knicks’ deficit grew to 82-70 less than four minutes into the quarter. Later in the fourth, Stoudemire scored on back-to-back baskets that gave Miami an 88-73 lead. The Knicks never got it under 11 the rest of the way.
It’s been a rough stretch for the Knicks. Rambis has gone from saying the playoffs are the Knicks’ only goal to hoping they develop a winning mentality.
“I know it’s a long shot,” Rambis said. “It’s not like I’m delusional or anything. To me it’s this mindset that you have and it’s a cultural mindset that players have to live under and the expectations that they have to put on themselves.”
The Knicks faced an uphill climb from the beginning. After Miami juped out to an 11-2 lead. The Knicks recovered nicely to get within 23-19 after one. But the first half of the second quarter was all Miami.
The Knicks missed 11 of their first 12 shots in the second and were outscored 14-2 over the first 5:59. Miami scored 12 unanswered during one stretch and led 37-21. The Knicks ended the second quarter on a 10-1 run to close to 44-39 at halftime.
It was the same script in the third as the Heat extended to 62-49 with 4:13 left. And the Knicks finished the quarter strong, ending it on a 9-2 run to draw within 69-65. But they fell apart in the fourth.
“We couldn’t get in any sort of consistent rhythm because we couldn’t make the shots we normally make,” Rambis said. “Guys couldn’t get any momentum and couldn’t get the fans involved in the ball game for an extended period of time.”