Knicks escape with a 106-104 victory against surging Heat without Jalen Brunson – Boston Herald


Not even facial recognition could see that coming.

Without an ill and inactive Jalen Brunson, the Knicks held off the surging Miami Heat despite bumbling and stumbling through the final minute of a 106-104 victory at MSG.

It ended with a potential game-winner from Miami’s Tyler Herro bouncing off the rim, allowing Julius Randle to breathe easy after his turnover nearly squandered the game.

The final moments were absolutely wild. It included two awful passes and turnovers from RJ Barrett — who was otherwise brilliant Thursday — and a stumble from Randle with 2.1 seconds that was reviewed as a travel.

But the Knicks (28-25) prevailed, moving a game within the Heat (29-24) for sixth in the Eastern Conference. They got a clutch steal and dunk from Isaiah Hartenstein, who has played better in the last two games with Mitchell Robinson still out with a broken thumb.

Barrett finished with 30 points in 41 minutes, playing down the stretch this time after being benched in the important moments of Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers. Randle, who was named an All-Star reserve not long before tipoff, added 23 points and 10 rebounds, including a dunk with 5.2 seconds remaining.

The Heat are one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, recovering from a poor start to the season to climb into a playoff spot. Miami also beat the Knicks nine times in its last 11 matchups.

But not Thursday.

Brunson was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness, moving Immanuel Quickley into the starting lineup. It represented Brunson’s fourth missed game of the season, and the Knicks are now 2-2 without their point guard.

His DNP Thursday also pushed Evan Fournier back into the rotation, as the Frenchman logged 18 minutes and missed six of his seven shots. Quickley added eight points in 37 minutes.

Bam Adebayo, who was named an All-Star reserve alongside Randle, led the Heat with 32 points in 38 minutes.

The third quarter, like the end of the game, was a rollercoaster. The Knicks started with 11 straight points to take a commanding lead, the Heat followed with an 21-4 run, and the Knicks scored 11 of the final 14 points. In the end, the Knicks entered the final period with a five-point edge.

Coach Tom Thibodeau knew it would be a tough matchup and the Knicks squeaked by.

“Miami’s playing great defense, as they always do,” Thibdoeau said. “But just getting Jimmy back and their overall depth is very strong.

“They are where we are in the standings. I think, the histories, Miami, New York, we know they’re a really good team. So they’re the next game, just be ready for them.”


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