James lowered a shoulder into Lin on one of Miami's first fast breaks of the night, sending the guard back about 10 feet. In the second quarter, Wade pounced on a miss by James for a two-handed put-back slam, a play quickly followed by a James dunk - courtesy of a Lin turnover. On the next Heat possession, Stoudemire accepted a pass from Lin, not seeing Wade get behind him for an easy strip that led to a layup and 43-40 Miami lead.
Back and forth they went, just as everyone wanted.
"It's always big when the Knicks come in," Bosh said. "They have that New York-Miami thing. The crowd enjoyed it. And we enjoyed it."
It was classic Knicks-Heat stuff, just like those playoff battles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bodies were flying, tempers were flaring, Tyson Chandler and D'Antoni picked up technicals arguing the same play in the first quarter ... and more than a few Knicks fans who paid big money for tickets - the average price for the game on the resale markets was over $700, by one estimate - made their presence known loudly and often.
"It's one game," D'Antoni said. "And we're not there yet. They're there. They're the team right now to beat for everybody. They're playing better than everybody. And we're trying to get our team together."
He's right. They're not there yet.
Lin never got rolling, either. James, Wade and Bosh combined for 25 of Miami's 29 points in the third quarter, James hitting a jumper with less than a second left to push the Heat edge to 80-66.
Lin checked back in with 7:06 to play, trying one last rush with the Heat lead then at 90-76. And the outcome was never in doubt after that.
"I'm not going to hang my head or anything like that," Lin said. "I know I went out there and I played hard. Can't win `em all. Can't have a great game every game. But at the same time, I need to understand, `OK, what'd I do wrong? How can I improve?' I think that's going to be exciting."
NOTES: Wade spoke to the sellout crowd before the game, thanking them on behalf of the NBA and especially the six All-Star weekend-bound Heat players for their support the first half of the season. ... A number of arena workers snapped photos of Lin as he warmed up on the court about two hours before game time. ... In Orlando, where All-Star festivities were getting underway, NBA Commissioner David Stern said "it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has."
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