Dwyane Wade; Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

When Gothamist thinks of the Knicks of recent years, a team that plays competitively against the best teams in the league doesn't really come to mine. Sure, they can compete in their payroll figures, but on the court, it's hardly been pretty. Imagine our surprise then, when the Knicks hung close with the Miami Heat last night. The Knickerbockers managed to hang in the game until Dwyane Wade hit a fadeaway jumpshot at the end of the game to give the Heat a 98-96 victory and a spot in the playoffs.

In addition to the game winning shot, Wade led the Heat in scoring with 24 points. Shaquille O'Neal only had 23 points against the center-less Knicks. . For the Knicks, Stephon Marbury had 24 and Tim Thomas contributed with 20 points. Unfortunately, Thomas missed a jump shot on the final Knicks possession that would have put his team in the lead.

With performances like this (close, but no cigar), could positive things be that far out of reach for the Knicks? There are 20 games left and the Knicks are only 4.5 games out of the last playoff spot. We obviously have our doubts, but we didn't think they would keep it this close against the Heat either. Okay, okay, we're just being way too hopeful for that Heat-Knicks Playoff match-up. Those were the days.

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images via NBA.com