Amar’e, Gallinari shoot New York past Miami; NBA All-Star starters

On a night where everybody walked out of Madison Square Garden talking about Danilo Gallinari, the Dime crew had perfect seats for the show. A few rows behind our spot on press row was a fan who was screaming out rooster calls whenever Gallo was at the free-throw line, and right beside us was an Italian journalist who didn’t even pretend to be objective while rooting for The Rooster: He scoffed when the crowd chanted “MVP” for Amar’e Stoudemire — apparently still banking on Andrea Bargnani making a late push — and when Gallinari knocked down some huge clutch shots in the fourth quarter to help New York upset the Miami Heat, dude’s reaction sounded like something you’d hear in a Peter North movie … Trailing by nine going into the fourth quarter, the Knicks cut the lead to two midway through on a driving lefty layup by Gallinari (20 pts), then took the lead when #8 banged a three. LeBron powered his way to the rim to put Miami up by one with 1:30 on the clock, but Gallo responded with another go-ahead trey, then Landry Fields added a triple to seemingly nail down the coffin. Or not. LeBron (24 pts, 11 rebs, 5 asts) made back-to-back layups where he basically ran through the defense at will, but then down by three in the final seconds, LeBron passed up a shot on the baseline to kick it to a wide open Mario Chalmers in the corner, whose brick essentially ended it. That must have been a Donyell Marshall flashback for LeBron … The Heat wasted a monster effort from Dwyane Wade, who finished with 34 points and 16 boards while playing in tinted goggles to help deal with his migraines. In the third quarter he ripped off a personal 14-0 run, but scored just one more point the rest of the way and didn’t have a field goal in the fourth. Asked how the Knicks defended Wade down the stretch, Mike D’Antoni said, “He missed a few. He’s human. It’s nothing we did.” … If we know that LeBron is motivated by getting booed, maybe Wade is motivated by not getting booed. Think about it: If MSG fans were laying into LeBron last night because he didn’t sign with their team last summer, what does it mean when they don’t bother booing D-Wade? Wasn’t he a free agent who snubbed New York, too? … It wasn’t as much of a problem that LeBron (7-24 FG) couldn’t hit the side of B.J. Raji with his jump shot — multiple times he didn’t even draw rim — it was more that Miami’s offensive flow died almost every time LBJ got the ball. He was playing out of position at power forward most of the night to replace Chris Bosh (ankle), but that’s why he needs to refine his post game …Read More>>

The Miami locker room was, as expected, a zoo. You could feel the disappointment wash over the media when they poured in for pre-game interview time and all they got was Eddie House, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and James Jones — the players even seemed amused by the whole thing. But then LeBron emerged from the back and the other guys somehow became even more irrelevant. During LeBron’s interview, Magloire tried to establish a 7-foot area of floor space to stretch, and ended up literally wedged between the feet of some reporters … Meanwhile, in the Knicks locker room, Timofey Mozgov sat all by himself, reading a Russian book and eating pineapple wedges out of his lap. No plate, no napkin, just fresh pineapple resting on his shorts … In the hallway between locker rooms, Eddy Curry and Juwan Howard were chatting and possibly having a contest to see who has the sickest waves. Eddy’s were nice, but the old champ was not to be defeated … Spotted in the crowd: Kanye West, Tracy Morgan, Magic Johnson (standing ovation), Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Styles P, Howard Stern, Carrie Underwood, Fat Joe (two-seater), Spike Lee, David Duchovny, Dave Winfield, Joe Klecko, and surprisingly not that many empty seats considering the NYC snowstorm … Amar’e (24 pts, 8 rebs) and Kanye were kicking it after the game, and with their similar sense of style, it looked Kanye was wearing the most expensive hand-me-downs ever … TNT’s Mike Fratello said it best as the Blazers were trying to stay within striking distance of the Celtics: Nate McMillan was “playing with a Derringer against a bazooka.” Not having Brandon Roy was bad enough, but with LaMarcus Aldridge (17 pts, 8-20 FG, 16 rebs) and Wes Matthews (12 pts, 4-15 FG) both struggling, it seemed hopeless for Portland even when they got within five points in the final minute … Don’t worry about Kendrick Perkins‘ health. The knee looked pretty sturdy when he stood like a brick wall against Aldridge, who learned that trying to back Perk down isn’t even worth it. The first time they locked horns, LMA bumped him hard and Perkins didn’t even move, while Aldridge had to settle for a fadeaway … The Celtics don’t have any All-Star starters, but don’t be surprised if Boston ends up with four All-Star reserves. Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce are basically locked in, and Ray Allen helped himself by dropping a team-high 18 points on national TV last night … In Thursday’s only other NBA game, Dallas beat Houston behind Tyson Chandler‘s 21 points and 15 rebounds … If you missed it, the All-Star starters are Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Yao Ming in the West, and Derrick Rose, D-Wade, LeBron, Amar’e and Dwight Howard in the East … Instead of H.O.R.S.E. or the Shooting Stars thing during All-Star Weekend, can we set up an MMA match between Kenny Smith and Chris Webber? They almost came to blows when Kenny said Kevin Love shouldn’t be an All-Star because the Wolves stink, and C-Webb turned into John Cena … We’re out like Yao at All-Star …