Knicks hope to lift city's spirits vs. Heat

The New York Knicks get their 2012-13 season underway tonight when they host the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The NBA and city officials canceled Thursday night's game between the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. It was supposed to mark the debut of basketball in Brooklyn, but with public transportation problems, and several logistical concerns, the game was moved to Nov. 26.

Madison Square Garden is different than the Barclays Center in that it's easier to get to without relying on the subway or rail system.

But Friday's game is a go, although everyone is remembering those still without power in the New York area and those that lost so much in the hurricane.

"It's a natural disaster, so there's nothing anyone can do about it," said Heat star LeBron James. "I hope all the families that either lost loved ones or their houses have been destroyed or whatever the case may be, our prayers go out to them. I hope everyone is being looked after."

The cancellation of the Nets game left the Knicks with a different preparation schedule. Instead of game-planning for the Nets, the focus shifted to the Heat, who knocked the Knicks out in the first round of last season's playoffs en route to the title.

"We knew it was a back-to-back. We were already ahead of schedule in terms of getting ready for Miami," said Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson.

The Knicks start this season with high hopes, although All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire is out for six weeks with a knee injury.

Carmelo Anthony is the star for New York and will play as such. With Stoudemire out and last season's "Linsanity" behind him, Anthony can carry the Knicks in the early part of the campaign.

Anthony will have to do some heavy lifting to get by the champs, who looked great on Tuesday in a 120-107 victory over the Boston Celtics.

The Heat got their championship rings, then put up 62 by the half against a perennially great defensive team.

James had 26 points and 10 rebounds against the Celtics, but only played 29 minutes due to leg cramps. Dwyane Wade netted 29 and the third member of the Miami version of the Big Three, Chris Bosh, also had a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards.

"It was good to cap this night off with a win," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said after Tuesday's victory. "It was an emotional time for all of us in our organization."

And it will be an emotional night Friday. In addition to everyone's thoughts and prayers for the victims of Sandy, the Heat and Knicks have built a nice rivalry over the years.

It will be at the forefront for the NBA tonight in the world's most famous arena.

The Heat have won 10 of the last 12 against the Knicks, including a sweep of all three games last season.