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Scenes from mauling Miami in the matinee

Knicks 125, Miami 109: Jalen Brunson burns the Heat with 32 points and eight assists to overcome 28 by Jimmy Butler.

Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

In a nationally televised matinee game, the New York Knicks (29-17) welcomed the Miami Heat (24-22) this afternoon. Miami had the league’s third-worst offensive rating for January (per NBA.com) and rode a five-game losing streak into today’s contest, while the Knicks had won five straight. It’s been a great month to be a Knicks fan.

The first half saw the Heat take an early lead but a strong effort from the Knicks’ bench, led by Josh Hart, and 50% three-point shooting powered New York to a 20-point turnaround and a 61-51 lead at intermission. Despite 28 points from Jimmy Butler and a few pushes by the Heat that tested the Knicks’ resolve, Miami couldn’t recover through the second half and New York pulled away to a 125-109 win.

Jalen Brunson was a basketball genius yet again (32 points, eight assists, five rebounds, one steal, and no turnovers), and Josh Hart ranked a team-high +30, but this thrilling game was not without an upsetting moment. Late in the fourth quarter, Julius Randle crashed to the floor and appeared to dislocate his shoulder. The injury sent him rushing to the locker room and ended his afternoon. Randle has played some of the best basketball of his career this month—beyond the stats, he’s made smarter decisions with the ball and has shown real leadership skills. He’s been a huge factor in the team’s success of late. We should all pray that his injury is not significant.

First Half

Three triples (Herro two, Butler one) gave the Heat an early ten-point lead while New York missed nine of their first 12 shots. The Knicks bench came to the rescue. With treys by Josh Hart and Miles McBride, New York went on an 11-7 run, chipped at their deficit, and finished the quarter down by three, 30-27.

In the second frame, a 9-0 run by New York featured a left-handed jam by Hart, and his sweet assist to a cutting McBride for a wide-open dunk gave the Knicks their first lead of the game. Hart was smoking through the first half, tallying eight points, six assists, and four rebounds in 16 minutes with a +18 rating.

Jaime Jaquez, Jr. had been questionable with a groin issue, but he played today. The 6’6”, 225 lb rookie blocked OG Anunoby’s dunk with an impressive highlight. It was one of Anunoby’s only missteps in the first half, during which he scored nine points and played his usual dogged defense.

The score rode a pendulum through the first part of the second quarter. Then Jalen Brunson re-entered the game and took some chomps out of the Heat with a layup, a floater, and three-pointer. Julius Randle added a three-pointer, and the Knicks went up by five points, their largest lead yet.

Here is Jalen at work, on his way to racking up 14 first-half points.

The Knicks took flight with a 10-0 run to end the quarter and enter halftime up 61-51. They had shot a remarkable 9-of-18 from downtown, with six of their nine players making at least one triple. The Heat had shot 7-of-20 from deep (35%). The Knicks had committed only three turnovers, but Miami did better, with only one.

Jimmy Butler led the visitors with 13 first-half points, making five of his 10 field goals. Impossibly it seemed, the Heat had 18 fastbreak points to New York’s zero, but our heroes had won the points in the paint 26-20, and their bench had outscored Miami’s, 20-17.

Your first-half shot chart:

Second Half

A shot clock malfunction delayed the start of the second half. When the game finally resumed, Hartenstein seemed to tweak his ankle again, and Bam Adebayo went at him two for back-to-back flushes.

A timeout by Thibs helped to right the ship. Hartenstein seemed to be fine, Jalen swished a trey, and the Knicks were quickly up by 13 points. The Heat cinched up their defense, though, and knocked out ten unanswered points, but Donte DiVincenzo, Julius Randle, and Brunson answered the call to re-pack their lead.

The Heat can’t be trusted to roll over and die, and they mounted an 12-4 run to close out the quarter. Thanks to a buzzer-beater triple by Julius, the Knicks entered the fourth frame ahead, 89-86.

A three-pointer from Quentin Grimes and a steal by Anunoby kicked off the final quarter. Jalen Brunson spun for an elbow jumper (over forward Caleb Martin no less) and OG swished a triple. The Knicks scored nine unanswered points. Grimes scored nine of his total 12 in the final period, while Jalen filled Miami’s carcass with holes. Brunson’s long-range bomb with six-ish minutes left gave New York a 16-point advantage and took all the air out of the Heat jerseys.

Whether it was Jimmy Butler, Haywood Highsmith, or poor Duncan Robinson, the Heat had no answer for Julius Randle when the big fella put his shoulder down and bullied the paint. At 4:27 remaining, Julius went up to the rim, was fouled by a Jaquez, and came down awkwardly, apperaing to dislocate his shoulder or do something to his pec. Unable to shoot his free throws, he rushed to the locker room.

After that scare, Precious blocked Jimmy, Josh Hart converted an And-1 play, Anunoby dunked, and Hart added another triple. With two minutes left, New York had opened a 22-point lead. Nothing more to see here.

Up Next

The Knicks will shuttle down to Charlotte for a Monday night game against the Hornets. Thanks for taking care of business, Knickerbockers. Get well soon, Julius. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, fam.

Box Score. And amen to this: