Welcome to another edition of “What Happened Last Night?” where we take a look at what happened in the sports world the previous evening so you won’t have to. Why wouldn’t you want to, and if you didn’t, what would you be doing reading a sports website? Good questions, but we’re going ahed with this anyway.
No Carmelo, no problem.
Well, apparently that loss to the Wizards wasn’t a one game hiccup for the Heat. They had every reason to go into last night’s game against the Knicks with a laser focus – a chance to redeem themselves not only for their embarrassing last game, but for an earlier lopsided loss at the Knicks’ hands in the second game of the season… not to mention a chance to get back on track as a team and just play better. It didn’t happen. For the second straight time against the defending champs, the Knicks walked away 20-point winners, 112-92… and Carmelo Anthony didn’t even play, thanks to that pesky finger cut. The Knicks managed to scrape by without him.
How’d they do it? For one thing, they bombed away from three-point range, attempting 44 on the night, well above their already-high per-game average – and with 18 makes, the strategy worked. The most successful: Raymond Felton, who shot 6-for-10 from long range and finished with a team-high 27 points. The Knicks played a clean offensive game, too, turning the ball over just seven times. As for defense, they held the Heat to 42 percent shooting, but no one struggled more than Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who shot a combined 6-for-25. LeBron nearly recorded another triple-double (31/10/9, and even he cooled off after a hot shooting start), but as the Wizards loss proved, the Heat need more than impressive-looking LeBron stat lines to win.
No, what the Heat need to do to win is defend the three effectively. Last night, obviously, they fell way short on that directive. And while two bad games is a small sample size in an 82-game season and the Heat are still 12-5, it’s hard not to wonder at this point if the Knicks wouldn’t pose some hellish matchup problems for the Heat in a playoff series down the line. Either way, the Heat doesn’t appear to be a team that can just waltz into the Finals.
And in the NBA’s other action last night, the Mavericks edged the Suns, 97-94. O.J. Mayo led the way with 23 points. Bad night for teams with heat-related names.
The Broncos can’t be stopped.
Of course, playing a bunch of mediocre-to-bad teams doesn’t hurt. Denver continued to burnish its chances at a playoff bye with a 26-13 win over the hapless Raiders – it was the Broncos’ eighth straight win and moved them to 10-3 on the year (the Raiders are a nicely symmetrical 3-10). It was a methodical Denver win: the defense bent (Carson Palmer completed passes of 58 ad 56 yards and Darren McFadden had a 36-yard run) but didn’t break, ultimately yielding just 14 first downs and one touchdown.
Meanwhile the offense just stayed on the field… and stayed… and stayed. They were on the field for 37 minutes and 19 seconds, to be exact, racking up 428 yards and 30 first downs. Knowshon Moreno was the workhorse Denver needs him to be with Willis McGahee out, carrying the ball 32 times for 119 yards and a touchdown (he caught four passes for 48 yards too). As for the guy under center, Peyton Manning completed 26 of 36 passes for 310 yards and a score of his own. With three regular season games left, he’s completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards and 30 touchdowns, against 10 picks. The big question: can he find his pre-injury form? (We kid, we kid.)
As for those last three Broncos regular season games, they’re against the Ravens, Browns, and Chiefs. The Ravens game, on December 16 in Baltimore, could have major playoff seeding implications, while the Broncos should be heavily favored in the other two. Safe to say, this was about what John Elway had in mind when he chased Manning over the offseason.
It’s Friday, so celebrate.
Any plans to mark the end of the week? Let us know in the comments if you’ve got a brag-worthy way to ring in the weekend lined up.
Photos via Getty