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Josh Hart after beating Miami: “I’m not happy, but we’ll take this win.”

Quoth Thibs: “We had a number of guys step up to get it done.”

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks sweated it but earned a hard-fought 111-105 win against the Miami Heat to even their second-round series. Now it’s at least a five-game affair as the teams move on to South Beach.

It was a ridiculously close game from tip-off to the final buzzer. The Heat led for most of it, but the Knicks knew when and how to proceed on their way to the win.

There were 16 lead changes. There were 13 ties. (There was no Jimmy Butler.) There were two teams. But only the Knicks reigned supreme.

“It was a hard-fought game,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought in the second half we competed really well. We had a lot of guys step up and play really well.”

New York welcomed Julius Randle back to the starting lineup after the forward had to miss Game 1 entirely. Jalen Brunson, who was also questionable to play hours before the game, made it to the starting five and logged a team-high 39 minutes on the night.

JR & JB combined for 55 points and led the Knicks on the scoring front. They were followed closely by RJ Barrett, whose 24 points were the third-most by a mand donning New York threads.

“It was a team win,” Randle said, “that’s for sure.”

The Heat’s bench outscored the Knicks’ second unit 22-12 (it was even worse in the first half alone, with the balance sitting at 17-2).

Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes had performances to forget, but one member of New York’s team was sublime coming off the pine: Isaiah Hartenstein.

I-Hart played 26 minutes and scored only three points, but he grabbed nine boards (four of them offensive) and three very crucial at a point in the game that proved to be pivotal and flipped the script in favor of the Knicks.

“The turning point of the game was me running into Isaiah Hartenstein,” Bam Adebayo acknowledged. “Then Brunson got the and-1 three...technically.”

The play above won’t show up in the boxscore, but it surely meant the world to New York with the Heat leading by six and less than seven minutes left then and there.

“I get paid to make those energy plays,” Hartenstein said. “Especially in the playoffs, those little details count. And so I just try to make sure I’d always do those little details, especially in the playoffs. I think we did the little stuff to win the game.”

After Hartenstein hit the freebie following Brunson’s three-point shot, the Knicks would go on to tie the game at 93-93, then outscore Miami 12-18 in the remaining minutes of play. After New York took a 99-96 lead with 4:07 left, they never relinquished it. Miami never got closer than three points down in the score with 22 seconds to go.

I-Hart was also key in replacing Mitchell Robinson early. After getting called for two fouls in the first three minutes of the game, Mitch-Rob was benched by Thibs and stayed there for the remainder of the opening stanza, but Hartenstein more than made up for the Big Mitch’s absence.

The man of the first quarter, though, was RJ Barrett.

“I just play basketball,” Barrett said after the game. “Thankfully shots were falling since the beginning, I kind of was able to help get the team going and we were able to just fight through the night.”

Barrett had another good outing scoring 24 points to go with three rebounds and three dimes. Yes, he has contributed more across the board in prior games, but the shot-making was crucial on Tuesday, and he delivered when the team needed him.

The Knicks relied heavily on Barrett and Randle through the first quarter, with the former scoring 16 and the latter 10 of New York’s 31 to lead the Heat by two points after one.

Even then, though, Rowan knows.

I-Hart, and Josh Hart.

These two were so good, in fact, that they even got the refs to call fouls on Bam when he had nothing to do with that stuff.

Hart started for the fourth consecutive time in place of Quentin Grimes—who returned in Game 1 playing 10 minutes and then followed that up with 26 minutes on Tuesday—and had his best game as a Knickerbocker by a mile. Hart dropped 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and dished out nine dimes in only 33 minutes.

“[Hart] did everything,” Thibodeau said. “That’s who he is.”

Oh, and by the way, Hart just became the first Knicks player since Walt Frazier in 1972 to record 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 9+ assists in a playoff game, and just the fourth man in that elite club. It took Frazier 44 minutes. Hart did it in a fraction of that time.

It’s fair to say Hart hit the Heat harder than pizza hit him.

Between the two Harts, New York was able to flip a three-point difference and a 96-93 score and turn it into a 96-96 that Brunson then converted into a 96-99 lead for the hosts.

All it took was a miss by I-Hart, an O-Reb by the same man, a miss by JB, another O-Reb by I-Hart, a miss by Hart, a third O-Reb by I-Hart, and finally, a three by Josh to put that 96 on the scoreboard once and for all.

“It was a good possession,” Hartenstein said. “It showed who we are as a team. No matter what happens, we stick together, and we just keep going.

Added Hartenstein: “I think that’s what got us here and just being physical, playing together, and just keep going.”

“Jalen was fantastic,” Thibodeau said, “and Josh was all over the floor.”

Brunson and Hart combined for 20 of the final 24 points scored by the Knicks.

“Game 1 didn’t end how we wanted it,” Hart said. “I’m not happy that we got the split, but we’ll take this win. We responded today, we competed at a high level and got the win.”

As Joe put it in the Scenes, “A win is a win.” The Heat came to Broadway and stole home-court advantage. The Knicks faced the possibility of having to deal with a very murky future with a second loss in a row. They avoided it. They will now move on and take their talents to South Beach to retake what was once theirs.

“You do have to credit New York,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Quoth Thibs: “Julius played tough. Jalen was fantastic,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “RJ big, big start to the game for us, so we had a number of guys step up to get it done.”

Carmelo Anthony attended Tuesday’s game, which means the Knicks are now 2-1 against Miami in the playoffs when Melo is in the crib and roaming the confines of MSG—in shorts and street clothes combined. A legitimate OG.