David Fizdale wasn’t happy with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. They started their coaching careers by breaking down video together for Pat Riley way back when. They chased rats out of their office and helped build a team that would win two championships and go to four straight NBA Finals.
But Spoelstra wasn’t very hospitable when Fizdale made his return to AmericanAirlines Arena Wednesday night as the Heat inflicted a 110-87 beat-down over the Knicks, who basically quit after being overwhelmed in the third quarter.
“That’s no way to treat a friend,” Fizdale said to Spoelstra moments after the Heat had polished off a second half where they outscored the Knicks 63-42, including a 45-20 edge in the decisive third quarter. “When I come to your house, you’re not supposed to beat me like that.”
Any team will beat the Knicks like that if they play as poorly as they did in the third quarter against the Heat. While the Knicks (1-4) went 0-for-8 from the 3-point line in the third quarter and shot 28 percent from the field, Miami caught fire. The Heat (2-2) shot a torrid 75 percent from the floor, including 8-of-10 from 3-point range. Just that quickly a 47-45 edge at halftime turned into a 92-65 advantage heading into the final quarter.
“We took our punch in the mouth and couldn’t rally back,” Fizdale said.
Look, there figures to be more nights every bit as bad as this one, especially with Kristaps Porzingis and rookie Kevin Knox out rehabbing injuries. The Knicks don’t have enough experience, maturity, depth and overall talent to string high-level performances together. That’s something they can’t admit to themselves. The object is to win every game and if not win at least be competitive and continue to show improvement. But Wednesday night was evidence how bad things could get before they get better.
Guard Trey Burke said the Knicks struggles on offense where they shot just 36.3 percent from the field and 12-of-33 from the 3-point line had a negative impact on their defense.
“If our offense isn’t flowing, it shows on the defensive end,” said Burke, who was limited to just three points on 1-of-10 shooting. “It has to be the other way around. You’re going to have nights where your main guys aren’t scoring at a high level. How are you going to win those games?”
Fizdale and the Knicks have to figure that out. This season can’t be a waste. No one expects a playoff appearance, much less a parade, but nights like Wednesday night not only are a waste, but breed questions about whether the Knicks are making progress.