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Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes keep Knicks alive: “Till the gas tank hit ‘E’”

First 48+48 since a pair of Knickerbocker Hall of Famers did it in 1972!

Miami Heat v New York Knicks - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In the wildest possible game you could have ever scripted, the New York Knicks defeated the Miami Heat 112-103 at MSG on Wednesday to extend their second-round series for (at least) one more game.

New York scored 14 (fourteen, yes) points in the first 12 minutes of play—barely one point per minute. Miami entered the second stanza only up 10, though, failing to capitalize on the Knicks' incompetence through the first quarter.

They would end up regretting being so mediocre.

The Knicks and the Heat exchanged figurative punches (literal punches came later) before halftime but Julius Randle’s made three-ball close to the break-buzzer was a sign of what was coming: an absolute barrage from the boys playing on their home turf.

Not even a bunch of bad calls and three consecutive offensive fouls—just to name a few things going against New York on Wednesday—prevented the Manhattan Men to send the visitors packing down to South Beach.

After closing the opening period on a 16-4 run (nice!), the Heat did pretty much nothing else.

Tom Thibodeau deployed Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Isiah Hartenstein to start the second quarter and give it all a fresh spin and it worked wonders for the Knicks.

New York went on an 18-2 demolition in the second quarter, then added another monster 22-7 run through the third. Miami brought some Heat approaching the final minutes of the game getting as close as two points to the Knicks with just over 2:30 left in regulation, but they would never bridge that gap with Mitchell Robinson icing the game smoothly from the charity stripe. Hack that.

“It felt great,” Robinson said about his charity-stripe excellence firing up the MSG crowd. “For that moment, for them to believe in me and knock them down for the team and stuff like that... it’s amazing.”

Mitch-Rob painting Miami’s face at the end was dope, can’t lie about that, and the big man surely laughed at the whole Heat contingent and their hack-a-Mitch tactics.

But the story of the game was, without a doubt, Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes playing the freaking full 48 minutes each, 96 rounds of the clock between them, 5,760 seconds spent across the Garden hardwood.

Thibs ain’t afraid of doing it again to their main men come Friday. “We’ll see what Game 6 brings,” he said. “If it requires them to do that, then I’m not afraid to do it.”

Now, that’d take a legitimate effort. We had not seen two teammates log 48 minutes without sitting in a single postseason game (no OT) since Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes did it for the Wizards in 2005. Only Kobe+Shaq, Dirk+Finley, and Daniels+Duncan, had done it this century along with the Wiz Couple.

You can add Brunson and Grimes to that select club, the first pair of Knickerbockers to accomplish the feat since Jerry Lucas and Walt Frazier pulled it off against Boston in a Game 5... of a 1972 postseason series. More than 50 years ago, that was.

Call me crazy, but I am very confident Knicks will go to Game 7—if they keep doing things that folks had not gotten to watch in their entire lifetimes, I mean, it has to happen, hasn’t it?

Brunson revealed after the game that he and Thibs never really discussed any minutes limit (for the low or the high) before tip-off. “Nothing was said at all,” Brunson said. “Whatever it takes.”

Same case with Grimes. “You don’t go in expecting to play all 48,” he said. “Once you’re in there that long, you may as well stay in.”

Whether you believe him or not, Thibodeau said after the contest that, initially, the Knicks were “planning to have both Jalen and Quentin come out,” although he added that “the way the first quarter went [with fouls], I knew we couldn’t do that.”

Thibs was probably referring to Josh Hart, who only played nine minutes of the full 48 coming off the pine because of early foul trouble, including getting called for a dubious flagrant foul that put three PFs on his personal tally before the first quarter was over.

With the game on the line, Grimes had the most impactful play of the whole affair stealing the rock from Jimmy Butler with little more than 90 seconds left in regulation. Oh, and he did it while injured and hobbling.

“I had just bent my knee on the screen, but it’s the playoffs,” Grimes said. “You have to do whatever you can to win. It’s what you live for, it’s what you watched as a kid. I knew I was hurt a little bit, but it’s not going to stop me from doing whatever I can to get a stop or disrupt the play.”

Grimes commented on Jimmy Buckets, saying that “48 or 25, it really doesn’t matter to me—I’ve just got to make sure I’m locked in on [Butler] defensively and try to do whatever I can to slow him down.”

Thibs thinks that Grimes “spaces the floor for us differently,” acknowledging that the guard is “a two-way player, a hustle player.”

Brunson, the other 48-minuter of the day, praised his young teammate saying that Grimes “is willing to do whatever it takes.”

JB himself led the Knicks with 38 points on 22 field-goal attempts hitting 10-of-12 freebies. He pulled down nine rebounds and dished out seven dimes.

Thibs also gave Brunson his flowers. “What can you say about the guy? He’s incredible. He’s an all-around player, a great leader, great toughness, mental toughness, physical toughness, the ability to think on his feet, the ability to lead, the ability to connect with people and bring the best out of people...” the coach started. “That’s what makes him special.”

Brunson confirmed that he was “just trying to do everything I could to win,” adding that he’d do “whatever it takes,” including playing the full 48.

You know Knicks Life’s good when the kids from Sidetalk are outside grabbing some footage.

You know Knicks Life’s great when Thibs says that the Knicks “have a bunch of gym rats” ahead of Game 6 in South Beach. “When you have guys like that, you know they’re ready.”

We all are.