MIAMI, Florida, February 24 – Newly minted 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 then 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.
Plenty of other celebrities were in attendance, including boxer Floyd Mayweather and film-maker Spike Lee.
Lee scolded Mayweather earlier this month after the fighter complained that the buzz surrounding Lin was due to his Taiwanese and Chinese heritage, rather than his basketball skills.
“The atmosphere was great,” said Miami center 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.
“It’s not a specific plan,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Miami’s strategy to neutralize 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.”