It was the first game played by the Knicks after the passing of New York Legend Willis Reed, who died Tuesday. NYK players donned black ribbons on the side of their jerseys, and the Heat paid homage with a pre-game tribute to the Knicks Captain.
Reasonable refereeing seemed to die on Wednesday, too, which is equally sad. Let Josh Hart tell you about it.
In a two possession game under a minute… https://t.co/1tGsYLEGzJ— Josh Hart (@joshhart) March 23, 2023
“I want to look at the fouls,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said about the calls. ”I think that that was a big part of this game. Some of them are marginal, but I want to make sure that I’m seeing what I’m seeing.”
Nothing that comes out of Thibs’ review will change the outcome of Wednesday’s matchup, but it might at least keep some refs on their toes going forward.
The usual five started the game for the Knicks, Julius Randle came back down to the cold earth, and Quentin Grimes had himself a day. Not your typical Knickerbocker basketball show, let’s say.
Randle scored 15 after dumping 57 a few days ago. Jalen Brunson (25), RJ Barrett (26), and Grimes all scored 22 or more, and Mitchell Robinson finished in double-digit figures with ten pops to go with eight boards.
The Knicks went up six early, but then Miami replied with a 16-4 run making things hella tight by the end of the first period, 32-31 in favor of the visitors. The game stayed that way till the very end, with no team building any sizable gap that made things feel insurmountable for any of the two sides.
When that happened in the final four minutes of playing time as Miami took a 10+ point lead, New York came back to bridge that distance, narrowing it to a five-point difference with 42 seconds on the clock. So close, yet so far away.
“It was a tough one, it’s a tough way to lose,” Randle said. “Just got to get our defense in order, first off. We’ve got to get our defense in order and find a way to get stops.
“I think more than anything it’s our competition level, our communication,” Randle finished.
The Knicks faced a Heat squad that ranks dead-last in points-per-game average (109.3), more than a full point below the second-worst Houston Rockets (110.5). New York still found a way to allow Miami to score 127 points, though, a tally they had only reached three times before throughout the whole season to date.
The Heat also shot 57% from the floor on Wednesday, their second-highest average of the season only trailing a scorching-hot 59.8-percent outing against Memphis a week ago. The 57.1% from beyond the three-point arc marked a season high for Miami, too.
A lot has been tweeted about Jimmy Butler going to the charity stripe 14 times on Wednesday to RJ Barrett’s team-high seven trips. The truth is, Jimmer has visited the line at least ten times in eeach of his last five games including yesterday, so it’s not much of a fluke to watch him doing it against the Knicks.
Miami attempted 26 freebies. New York, 25. They converted 21; the Knicks, 20.
Refs called 18 personal fouls on Miami. They whistled 25 on New York.
“We knew that they would be physical. We know it’d be a hard-fought game,” Thibodeau said. “We fell short tonight... We’ll take a look at the film and see where we can make our corrections.”
On the day Grimes came back, Immanuel Quickley decided to do crap. Quentin scored 22 points going 7-of-12 from the field making six of the ten treys he attempted. IQ connected on a three-ball and a couple of free throws.
Even Hart, who filled the line all across the board, could only contribute a low overall 12 points, four boards, three dimes, two steals, and one block.
The Knicks have now dropped two in a row and face the lowly Magic tonight on the road for the second matchup in as many days. Brunson thinks New York has “everything” to fix ahead of the trip to Orlando.
“You’ve got to be mentally tough when things aren’t going our way. It’s going to be loud in the playoffs. If we want to be the team that we want to be... we’ve got to be better.”
New York still possesses the fifth seed in the East, trailing Cleveland by four and leading Brooklyn by two. Miami is seventh, virtually tied with the Nets. The Orlando Magic (30-43) have the fifth-worst record in the NBA. Tip-off today at 7:00 ET. Don’t miss it.