The Knicks entered Miami-Dade Arena on a night as the Heat and the NBA world continue to celebrate the life of Hall of Famer Willis Reed.
The Heat held a pregame tribute to the legend and the Knicks wore a black stripe on their jerseys to commemorate the former MVP who is largely responsible for the Knicks’ two championships.
Two days after a historic night that ended in defeat, the Knicks lose to the Heat, 127-120. Tom Thibodeau’s team put in a good enough offensive performance to win, but couldn’t stop Jimmy Butler, who finished with 35 points and nine assists.
For the second game in a row, the Knicks struggled with an unlikely key contributor. Gabe Vincent fired up the road team early, shooting 3-for-5 from center and finishing with 19 points. Vincent fired up early, reaching his season scoring average (nine points) in the first quarter.
Jalen Brunson, as always, kept the Knicks in the game. He finished with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Knicks got a lot of open looks as the Heat doubled down and sat on zone defense on a few possessions. They couldn’t convert those open looks early on, but they finished the game shooting 40% from deep.
( Mike Lupica: Willis Reed was the beating heart of the champion Knicks )
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down five, but quickly took the lead after five straight hurdles to open the period. The home team responded quickly, aided by a three-point barrage from Tyler Herro and Max Strus, to extend the lead to 12 points. The two teams traded buckets in the quarter with Herro scoring 11 points in the final period.
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The Knicks cut the lead to five with 42 seconds to go, but their inability to stop for the entire game resulted in a second straight loss.
The Heat scored easily most of the night as the Knicks struggled defensively, as they did against the T-Wolves on Monday.
One game after allowing 140 points to a Timberwolves squad without its best players, Thibodeau’s team gave up 127 points to the Heat, who rank last in points per game (109) as of Wednesday. The Knicks allowed the Heat to shoot 57% on the night, an anomaly for a team that ranks 28th in 3-point percentage.
Quentin Grimes had a rebounding game, playing aggressive and downing six 3-pointers after firing just one shot last game. He finished with 22 points and was tasked with defending Butler on a few possessions.
Julius Randle received a technical foul for the second straight game Wednesday after claiming a clear offensive foul in the third quarter on a dunk attempt. He couldn’t convert on two dunk attempts against the Heat after looking nearly invincible while scoring 57 points Monday. Randle’s night ended with 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Before Wednesday, he averaged 33 points and 9.5 rebounds against the Heat this season.
The Heat earned their first win against the Knicks this season and are now tied with the Nets for the sixth seed and within two games of the fifth-seeded Knicks in the Eastern Conference. Erik Spoelstra’s team will host the Nets on Saturday.
The Knicks host the Heat next week, which is set to be another close contest. The Knicks won the first two meetings by a combined four points, getting a bucket from Randle with a second remaining in the March matchup and earning a win in February when Tyler Herro missed the final shot in regulation at Madison Square. Garden.