The New York Knicks tried their best to keep it close with the Miami Heat on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, but the Heat used a strong fourth quarter to move to 33-13 on the 2013-14 NBA season and hand the Knicks their 28th loss of the year.
With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the lineup, the two Heat stars came to play. LeBron finished with 30 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and six steals on 13-22 shooting while Wade had 22 points, four assists, four boards and two steals on 10-15 shooting. However, with Chris Bosh shooting just 2-11 from the floor and scoring only four points, the Heat needed their role players to contribute. Enter Shane Battier.
Playing a season-high 30 minutes against New York, Battier put up 16 points, two assists and two rebounds while shooting 5-8 from the floor and 4-7 from beyond-the-arc. Even more than his outside shooting impacted the game, though, he was integral in containing Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony finished the night with 26 points on 8-17 shooting still, but Battier was able to really limit Anthony’s touches and quality looks when he was matched up with the Knicks star. The fact that the Heat were 4.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Battier on the floor is evidence of how he impacted the game defensively.
Battier hasn’t been heard from much this season. In 39 appearances, Battier has averaged 4.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game while hitting only 41.2 percent of his field goal attempts and 35.9 percent of his three-point attempts. While his production has slipped, though, games like the one on Saturday night show why he’s so valuable. He can still knock down shots to provide much-needed offense and can still effectively defend elite players in this league. This might’ve been his first big night of the year, but it’s hard to imagine us not hearing from Battier again down the road.