by Lang Whitaker

Welcome to the World’s Most Famous Arena, where the Knicks have looked fair beating the T-Wolves, looked really good beating the Nuggets, and looked awful losing to the Magic. In other words, the Knicks have looked like the Knicks. Tonight’s opponent is the Miami Heat, who’ve looked awful all season, compiling an 0-5 mark.

The NBA…where amazing happens!

• Philly native Malik Rose was really upset pregame to learn about the ending of the Eagles/Redskins game, not because the Eagles won but because Malik’s brother has Brian Westbrook on his fantasy team.

• I was standing around chatting with a few Knicks writers and I made some joke, which prompted Daily News/NBA TV superstar Frank Isola to say, “Hey, you’re pretty funny Lang. You should incorporate that humor into your writing.” I told him I’ve been trying for seven years, and if it hasn’t happened yet…

• In the Heat locker room, not much was happening. All the reporters were mobbed up around Penny Hardaway. Off in the corner, Mark Blount and Ricky Davis were studying a Knicks/T-Wolves game film on the TV. They both suddenly cracked up and asked for the tape to be rewound. It was, and we saw a play where Jamal Crawford shattered Marko Jaric’s ankles. “He looked like he was on roller blades,” said Davis. Not sure if he was talking about Crawford or Jaric, but if that was Jaric on roller blades, he better have been wearing wrist guards.

• The Knicks now have a sushi chef at one of their concession stands. Does he prepare everything with MSG?

• Tonight for dinner in the press room, we were given a choice of greasy pigs in a blanket or hot dogs. I think this is James Dolan trying to get back at the media by killing us all via cholesterol.

• I ate dinner at a table with my main man Paul Forrester from SI.com and Felipe Lopez, who now does the Knicks radio broadcasts en espanol. I asked Felipe if he could pretty say whatever he wants about the team, since none of the Knicks players speak Spanish. He said no.

• According to Pat Riley, there’s no D-Wade tonight. And the Heat are 0-5 coming in. In the past, this was a game the Knicks would almost certainly lose. But if they can pick up where they left off before the Orlando debacle on Friday night, moving the ball and actually playing some defense, the Knicks should win this.

• Cool seeing Penny Hardaway in the starting five tonight. New York starts David Lee, as Zach Randolph is out for his grandmother’s funeral. Good thing he’s not on the Vikings or he’d get fined.

• The Knicks go inside to Eddy Curry off the bat, and he runs around Shaq for a layup. The Heat try to reciprocate, but Shaq misses a jumper over Curry.

• Pretty good attendance today — the Garden is nearly full, it seems, despite the Giants playing right now over in Jersey. Maybe not surprisingly, all the sportswriters in the press box where I’m sitting are watching the football game on their TVs.

• Jason Williams’ tattoos are like the opposite of a fine wine — they get worse with age.

• Knicks are up 8-5 early. Eddy Curry has 4 points, 1 foul and 3 orders of nachos.

• Quentin Richardson looks like one of the Transformers.

• Udonis Haslem drills a jumper to tie it at 12 apiece. U-God has 8.

• Curry catches in the post, spins and dribbles the ball off his foot while running over Shaq. Everyone looks to ref Scott Foster for a call…and he decides it’s out of bounds off Shaq.

• Huge list of celebs in the house tonight. I’ll run it down for you…

— Ellen Pompeo from “Gray’s Anatomy,” although I preferred her in “Old School.”

— John Mayer, who ripped off Curtis Mayfield for his hit single “Waiting For the World To Change.”

— Minka Kelly, who apparently stars on “Friday Night Lights,” a show I have no desire to see.

— Jorge Posada, soon-to-be catcher for the New York Mets.

— Tracy Morgan, who I hope to get close to so I can tell him thanks for being my mentor, and I hope he’s enjoyed having me as his manatee.

— Liam Neeson, who has terrible seats (he’s behind the girl from “Friday Night Lights”). When he was shown on the scoreboard they played the Superman music — but wasn’t he in “Batman Begins”?

— Isabel Goulart, who I really enjoy googling.

— Katrina Bowden, who plays the tarty receptionist on “30 Rock,” and Lonny Ross, the fake Jimmy Fallon on “30 Rock.”

— Finally, Lindsay Price, who is credited at being on something called “Lipstick Jungle,” although I know her better as Steve Sanders’ true love Janet.

• Man, that took a while to type. Heat went up 18-16 during that span. Now it’s 20-16. Now 20-18, after a dunk by Curry. Curry has 10, and Shaq’s on the bench with poor conditioning.

• Curry in the post, bowls over Zo, no call, gets a dunk.

• The Knicks end the quarter running a nice give and go between Eddy Curry and Mardy Collins. Curry gets a layup attempt, but a defender flies at him, so Curry tries to improvise a reverse, which ends up completely missing the rim.

• 25-20, Miami, after one quarter. I’d tell you how many points different players have, but the scoreboard never shows how many points the players have, because it’s too busy showing ads and the Knicks logo. I also can’t check the TV for stats because it’s important we watch the Giants/Cowboys game. Because we need to know which team is more likely to go to the Superbowl and get annihilated by the cheating New England Patriots.

• I tell you, that Nate Robinson/Malik Rose pick-and-roll just isn’t as effective as it once was.

• Mardy Collins runs over Penny on a break and picks up an offensive foul. A woman next to me in the seats starts clipping her fingernails, which for some reason really bothers me.

• Down 5, the Knicks go small, bringing in Steph for a Nate/Steph/Mardy Collins backcourt. Of course, Renaldo Balkman jacks up a three with 13 left on the shot clock. As he released it, the Garden crowd audibly gasped. As did I. Miami keeps scoring and goes ahead 31-22.

• Shaq scores, then picks up his second personal foul. Mark Blount replaces Udonis Haslem.

• Curry picks up an offensive foul in the post away from the ball. I didn’t see what happened but Curry was pretty upset, gesturing to his jersey as though Shaq was pulling on him. Isiah leaps to his feet and calls ref Scott Foster some not-so-nice names. This causes more problems. Rev. Al Sharpton decides that he needs to see a replay of the tape before he knows if Curry has a case against Shaq. And then Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer publicly rebukes Thomas for his remarks about Foster. Foster tries to rectify things by calling a T on Zeke, but Whit Eboy misses the free throw. Can’t we all just get along?

• Miami up 33-24. This place is dead up in here. All I hear is fingernails being clipped. By the way, this woman’s fingernails must be three feet long, as much time as she’s putting into this.

• Knicks City Kids in the house, and they’re just as disturbing as always. Ellen Pompeo gives them a big hand as they trot off the floor. One of the Knicks City Kids silently wonders if perhaps Pompeo has an eating disorder, an accusation I personally find to be offensive and inconsiderate. She looks good to me.

• The Knicks come out of a TO and have Steph and Curry run a pick and roll, which results in Curry tossing up another airball reverse layup. If you could be an All-Star for missing reverse layups, Eddy Curry would be a lock.

• I’m not sure how the Heat are scoring, but they are, and regularly. it’s kind of like when you’re playing at the Y and the team of old guys poaches a basket here, gets a three there, and next thing you know they’re up 10 and you’re hoping they’re about to get tired.

• Jason Williams picks off a pass and sprints down court, and in an unofficial tribute to Eddy Curry, he blows a reverse layup. To repay the favor, on the other end the Knicks throw it to Curry in the post, and he manages to trap the ball against the floor as he falls forward onto his hands, so he ends up on the ground like an Eddy Curry-shaped table. Man, I love Eddy Curry.

• Jason Williams has 8 points and 5 assists, but Miami’s lead is just 3. David Lee catches a Crawford miss for a dunk, and Steph follows with a big three to give New York the lead, 39-37.

• I missed the memo, but if you’re a white guy and live in the New York area, it’s apparently fine to still have that ridiculous haircut the Gotti boys had on their reality show.

• Last play of the half…Steph dribbles the clock down, gets triple-teamed, throws the ball to David Lee, who flips the ball up and bricks it. Knicks lead 39-37 at the half. Curry leads the Knicks at the half with 12, and Lee and Q-Rich each have 7 boards. Miami has 10 from Haslem, all in the first quarter.

• We’re back for the second half, with the game tied at 41 with 8:09 to go in the third. Not exactly a thriller at the Garden tonight.

• The Knicks start shaking things up, and they go to a 2-2-1 full court trap, then fall back into a 2-3 zone. The Heat attack the zone by having Jason Williams dribble directly down the center of the lane and shoot a finger-roll to go up 4. He’s crafty, that Pat Riley.

• The real Knicks City Dancers make an appearance. They’re OK, but I think they need to be much more suggestive and sexual, more like the Knicks City Kids.

• The Heat cling to their lead, until Jamal Crawford shoots an out of control jumper that he sinks, of course. Time out, Miami.

• During the timeout, we got a fan dance contest, during which a fan from Brooklyn hits the floor and starts flopping around.

• Loudest cheer of the night? For John Mayer being shown on the scoreboard. Meanwhile, I keep on waiting (waiting), waiting on the score to change.

• Just got an email from Drew Gooden. I’d emailed him the other night at Russ’s behest to tell Drew that with his luxurious neck beard he looks like Abraham Lincoln. Drew’s response…
“LOL! U know I always got something up my sleeve!”
Also on your neck, Drew.

• The Miami offense, when Shaq is out of the game, is basically four guys standing around, and then Ricky Davis runs all over the court and they try to pass it to Pretty Ricky. Not working out so well.

• Steph hits a three right before the quarter ends to put New York ahead, 58-52. Can we just say first team to 70 wins?

• The Knicks City Kids have returned to show the Knicks City Dancers what real lasciviousness is all about.

• Knicks open the fourth by having Malik Rose airball a jumper, and then David Lee has the ball pinned against his throat by U-God. If this game were any uglier, Mike Woodson would be coaching.

• Q-Rich scores to make it 64-57, Knicks. The Heat aren’t scoring 70 tonight, no way.

• Miami just inserted Chris Quinn into the game, and then ran a play where Ricky Davis threw an alley-oop to Shaq, who dunked it without really leaving the ground. I thought Chris Quinn was the quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars?

• 64-59, 8:32 to go. Curry’s up to 17 and 5, while Whit Eboy has 14 and 7.

• Knicks get a two, Penny gets a three, Mardy Collins then drives to the basket, spins and hits a floater. 66-62, New York.

• Is anyone wearing tights under their uniform this season? Seems like Penny would be a prime candidate, as much trouble as he’s had with his legs.

• Timeout, with NY up 68-62, 5:40 to play. They play The Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter” as the players come back to the floor, and I feel like I’m in middle school again.

• Ricky Davis wets a three right in Collins’ face to make it 68-67, New York. Chris Quinn is still out there — Whit Eboy must be hurt, I guess? Quinn then shoots a three that bounces strangely and goes over the backboard and into the shot clock. Hey, suddenly Jason Williams is healthy again, as he goes to the scorer’s table.

• Shaq and Penny combine for back to back turnovers, which again makes me feel like I’m in high school again. The Knicks get a bucket from David Lee to take a 70-67 lead.

• Nate Robinson isn’t getting much playing time tonight…or as Clyde Frazier might say, “No time for Mister 5-9!”

• Out of a timeout, the Heat work it around the perimeter until the ball meets Ricky Davis, who treats the ball like a hot potato, firing it at the rim and missing. The Knicks come back, use the clock, miss a shot but get the board, then get it inside to Curry, who gets fouled and makes both.

• After a Haslem bucket, the Knicks lead 72-69. Mardy Collins has a crazy idea that he can drive against Penny Hardaway, and Collins looks like he thinks the rest of the Knicks players would undoubtedly endorse this approach. Collins gets fouled and his first free throw goes wide right, hitting nothing. Then, apparently without provocation, Eddy Curry starts bleeding — perhaps he took a bite of his own forearm? “Norwood” Collins also misses the second free throw wide right.

• Haslem gets fouled. Before he can shoot the free throws, everyone has to wait about ten seconds for Ricky Davis to stop chatting with Jason Williams. He misses both.

• Crawford misses a three, and the rebound bounces off Shaq’s head to Ricky Davis. The Heat fly down and get the ball to Haslem for a layup. 72-71, New York, with 45 seconds left.

• Unforced turnover from Steph, who also makes $9.99 shoes, if you didn’t know.

• Whit Eboy nails a baseline jumper to give Miami a 73-72 lead with 19.9 remaining. Timeout.

• Who gets the last shot for New York? I dunno, but I’d give it to Jamal Crawford, because last-second shots are about the only ones he makes regularly.

• Sure enough, they run a play for Crawford, who finds himself double-teamed. Crawford runs around the perimeter and whips it inside to a surprised Eddy Curry, who is chilling, alone and open under the basket. Curry bats the ball away from himself like it’s made of vegan foodstuffs. Whit Eboy recovers and gets fouled with 9.4 left. He hits both free throws to give Miami a 75-72 lead.

• Timeout and the Knicks set up an inbounds play. Steph catches, throws a few completely ineffective pump fakes at Jason Williams, then fires up a shot with about 5 seconds left that hits nothing but glass. Haslem gets the board and Curry won’t foul him, because he has 5 personals, so the clock runs out. Nice. Knicks lose, 75-72. Welcome to the win column, Miami!

Forget the postgame locker rooms, I’m going home to cut my fingernails.