Facing the same opponent twice in a row, the Knicks took their talents to South Beach on Tuesday night for a rematch with the Heat.
Without a little home cooking on the end of the officials, they might have gotten the redeeming win they were looking for.
I’m not normally one to ever blame a loss on officials, but the zebras absolutely had it out for the Knicks in this game. But that was late in the game. Let’s start at the beginning.
The Knicks opened this game... let’s just say, sluggish. at one point in the first quarter they found themselves down 11 — 20-9 — mostly due to Kelly Olynyk being annoyingly hot from the field and Jimmy Butler starting the trend that would go on the rest of the night: getting a butt ton of free throws.
The Elfrid Payton got hot, yada yada yada, and the show really got started when Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose checked in with 3:27 to go in the first.
Rose and Quickley checking into the game together pic.twitter.com/VvQF3WgkuN— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
Perhaps in a way it was unsurprising to see Rose get in the game immediately after roughly 24 hours with the team (and only maybe a shootaround, if that) through the lens that he’s Tom Thibodeau’s favorite player, but it was still kind of surprising to me that he got in the game and managed to actually make an impact like he did.
I think a lot of people, myself included, were worried about the effect that Rose would have on Quickley and his playing time situation going forward. In reality, Rose basically just provided a version of what Austin Rivers had been providing lately, but, like, actually good.
In fact, in a lot of half court scenarios, Quickley was even the guy bringing the ball down. Rose seemed to be the guy the Knicks were looking to get things going in transition, which is fine, because he’s definitely still a maestro when the situation dictates “go really fast.”
Rose got Quickley going by assisting his first bucket, a triple:
He bottled up Duncan Robinson, something that happened all night between great defense from Rose and Reggie Bullock:
Knicks got D-Rose for D-FENSE pic.twitter.com/qE7KiQx4gj— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
And he was even draining and paining from deep:
Rose has 7 points and the Knicks are on a 20-3 run pic.twitter.com/DHVTp2h9NK— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
All told, Rose and Quickley checked in at 3:27 in the first, down 25-17. In just over seven minutes, they would be leading 42-30, including a tidy 15-0 run at the start of the second quarter, assisted by Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Obi Toppin. The symbiosis of the Quickley/Rose/Burks trio was fantastic, constantly moving the ball around the perimeter looking for open shots and pushing the pace in transition. As commenter alispeech said, “Rose is quick. IQ is quick. Nice quick backcourt.” Indeed.
Unfortunately, the starters weren’t able to keep that momentum going, and the Knicks would fall behind 57-55 at the break.
Once the third quarter got going, a somewhat frequent occurrence happened: RJ Barrett scored a flurry of points, dropping seven and dishing two assists in the third quarter alone.
Mitch Defense. Randle playmaking. Barrett finish.— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
2020-21 Knicks Basketball pic.twitter.com/xNOkxgb8Kz
Rose, Quickley, & Co. would come back in and push the lead to 10 once again, but a more familiar version of Rose to Knicks fans did rear his head in his second stint off the bench. It should be again noted, though, that this guy literally had no time to adjust to this team (I don’t think he was even allowed to participate in a shootaround until Dennis Smith Jr.’s physical cleared partway through the day on Tuesday) and still managed to provide an impactful 20 minutes with an efficient 14 points and three assists.
As the game wore down into crunch time, the Knicks held on and kept the game tight, despite Bam Adebayo and Butler literally accruing almost double the Knicks’ free throw attempts by themselves (31 between them to the Knicks’ 16 as a team). That’s where the shitty officiating I mentioned earlier comes in.
On one play, Randle was called for a foul on Adebayo that was definitely not a foul. It went to review, and it was still deemed a foul. Adebayo missed his first free throw and some Knick could be loudly heard yelling “BALL DON’T FUCKIN’ LIE.”
On another play, Adebayo and Randle were both going for a loose ball, which on replay was clearly off of Adebayo. Randle protested, and was given a technical foul.
Finally, at a critical juncture of the game, Randle attempted a shot that would have put the Knicks up by one, and in the ensuing fight for the rebound, Olynyk blatantly shoved Mitch out of the way, which went uncalled. Meanwhile, Butler fell over and acted as if he was dying, and got the foul call. He even comically writhed on the ground and looked up to see if anyone was noticing:
SEND THIS MAN TO HOLLYWOOD pic.twitter.com/WSlVyvKVGl— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
Those are just three particular instances. In general, the Heat were basically allowed to get away with murder while the Knicks were being ticky-tacked to death. Basically, it felt like ‘90s basketball on the Heat side of things, while the Heat were given the James Harden treatment on the other end.
In the end, though, ball didn’t lie once again — Butler missed one of his two free throws after his acting performance, and the Knicks had a chance to tie on the final play. RJ got about as good of a look as you could’ve asked for, but just couldn’t get the roll:
Strong drive by RJ, just didn't get the roll pic.twitter.com/dt5RHDyu1P— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
And that was the game.
— Randle shot 4-18 in this game, but mostly because I think he understood how the game was being called and started settling a bit for jumpers. And even on the jumpers, I think the Heat were given a lot more leeway to get into Randle’s space than any Knick defender would’ve been given on the other end.
— Really I feel like everyone on the Knicks was just getting mauled in this game.
— The Rose/Quickley pairing worked pretty well, though as fun as it was to see how they were moving and grooving, I hope that IQ is trusted with the ball handling more often than not going forward. Rose was surprising good at catching and shooting this game, and his numbers have shown that he can do that pretty well the last few years. Having him be a secondary facilitator/guy that can cut to the hoop and actually do something with it could definitely be useful. That said, having Quickley do some of his work off-ball is good too, and Rose seemed willing and able to find him in this game. If this is the type of chemistry they can have after not even one practice, I think we’re in for a treat moving forward.
— Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel had really good games on defense, combining for eight stocks. Mitch had a boneheaded foul or two, but other than that, they provided the 48 minutes of rim protection that you’d hope for between them.
What a defensive sequence by Mitchell Robinson pic.twitter.com/LPoeCOJy0N— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
— I’m waiting for this Elfrid Payton “hot” streak to stop any day now, it’s getting kinda annoying. Even when he’s playing well (for him), he has a way of missing wide open passes, submarining possessions to iso for himself, and just generally not play great defense. I’m ready to move on. Bring on those “contenders” that allegedly want him, and ship him out for a couple items off the McDonald’s dollar menu.
— Obi Toppin played 11 quality minutes, in large part because he wasn’t forced to deal with Austin Rivers pretending he didn’t exist.
Knicks bench, led by Derrick Rose, with a 27-3 advantage over the Heat bench— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) February 10, 2021
Obi Toppin with some 90s NYK-MIA post moves pic.twitter.com/DziyUGkuib
That’s all I’ve got for today. No game til Friday! Enjoy some W-Knicks ball in the meantime, and be sure to check out Miranda’s recap over at The Strickland if you want a more elegant writeup of this game.