|Jeremy Lin feels the Heat as Miami’s defence steps up the pressure [GETTY]|
New NBA star Jeremy Lin proved no match for Miami’s “Big Three” on Thursday as the Heat handed Lin and his New York Knicks a 102-88 defeat as the league heads into the All-Star break.
Miami’s swarming defence saw Lin deliver his worst numbers since his breakout run began, scoring eight points on 1-of-11 shooting with three assists and eight turnovers.
Meanwhile, Chris Bosh scored 25 points, Dwyane Wade scored 22 and LeBron James added 20 for the Heat, who won their eighth straight game and will take a league-leading 27-7 record into the All-Star weekend that starts on Friday.
“The speed and the athleticism… credit to them,” Lin said.
“Hopefully when we play them next time, it can be a different story.”
Lin has been the NBA’s biggest story this month, coming off the Knicks bench after being cut by two other clubs to put in the best performance of any NBA player in his first 10 starts since 1976.
Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, became a phenomenon because of his scoring, averaging nearly 24 points a game, his passing skills and his clutch shooting ability, including a last-second game winner at Toronto.
Even President Barack Obama publicly expressed his regret that he wouldn’t be able to extend his stay in Miami on Thursday to watch the Knicks and Lin take on the Heat’s established stars.
“The atmosphere was great,” said Miami centre Joel Anthony.
“We wanted to step up.”
The Heat defence certainly did, forcing 15 turnovers in the first half and limiting New York to 4-of-15 shooting in the third quarter.
“I can’t remember another game where it was hard just staying with my dribble,” said Lin, who had three turnovers before he had even scored a point.
“I’m not going to hang my head or anything like that,” he added.
“I went out there and played hard. You can’t win ’em all. You can’t have a great game every time. At the same time, I need to see what I did wrong and how I can improve. “
“I went out there and played hard. You can’t win ’em all. You can’t have a great game every time. At the same time, I need to see what I did wrong and how I can improve.”
Both Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers stripped the ball from Lin for dunks in the first half.
“(We) wanted to make him uncomfortable,” Chalmers said.
“A lot of teams let him get comfortable and he picked them apart. We weren’t going to let him do that.”
“It’s not a specific plan,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Miami’s strategy to neutralise Lin.
“What we wanted to do was treat him with the adequate respect he deserves.”
“We just wanted to come out and dominate the game,” Bosh said.
“When we’re all three playing well, that kind of feeds energy on this team.”
Lin wasn’t the only Knicks player to struggle. Carmelo Anthony shot 7-of-20 and power forward Amare Stoudemire committed six of the Knicks’ 19 turnovers.
“We just probably played arguably the best team in the NBA,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That set a bar to get up to.”
D’Antoni also acknowledged the toll the intense scrutiny on Lin can exact.
“It’s hard to be Peter Pan every day,” D’Antoni said. “He just had an off-day.”