Billups remains the same proud championship quarterback he's always been, and so he hardly surprised himself when he made the endgame steals and runner and 3-pointer that the world's most gifted player, LeBron James, could not make.
But the most significant big-picture development in Knicks 91, Miami Heat 86, was the defense Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire played on James in the final, frantic seconds, when LeBron dribbled left and darted into the lane for what he believed would be the winning basket and a rejection of the Knicks' master plan to unseat the uncrowned Heat.
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The first seed in this seminal moment was planted in the middle of the fourth quarter, when Anthony sidled up to teammate Bill Walker and told him they needed to trade defensive assignments, told him he wanted to cover LeBron James down the stretch.
Anthony had his reasons. He entered this game with an 8-4 head-to-head record against James, and with a long history of engaging LeBron in summertime duels on the AAU circuit. James' high school in Akron, St. Vincent-St. Mary, met Anthony's Oak Hill Academy in 2002, and Melo won that faceoff, too.