Running out of gas in the second half, the New York Knicks were overpowered by the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, falling 109-103 to snap a two-game winning streak.
The Heat (9-14) held the Knicks (11-14) to just 44 points in the second half, most notably holding the ascending RJ Barrett to just three points in 19 minutes of play.
Julius Randle once again led New York with 26 points to lead all scorers with 13 rebounds, and seven assists, but he was just one of three Knicks with a double-digit scoring output. Reggie Bullock added 21 while Alec Burks had 13.
The bulk of Bullock’s points came in the first half as he punctuated an affluent three-point shooting display.
He came one three-pointer short of tying a franchise record for most made in a single half, knocking down six and accounting for 18 points.
Randle knocked down three of his own in the final 3:45 of the first half. In total, the Knicks sunk 12 three-pointers in the first half alone, which was more than they hit in 17 entire games this season. They would hit just four more in the second half to tie a season-high with 16 made threes.
Despite the strong display, they still trailed by one at halftime as the Heat hit nine of their last 10 shots while shooting 52% from the field in the opening 24 minutes.
“Offensively I liked us particularly in the first half but defensively, we have to be a lot better,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There were several possessions in which we had pretty good defense but didn’t finish it.”
“At the end of the day, this game is about defense, it’s about toughness, it’s about rebounding,” assistant coach Kenny Payne told MSG Networks. “It’s just not what New York Knicks basketball should be about. We can’t be in the offensive game, we need to be about stops.”
All the while, Barrett was held without a point until there were four-and-a-half minutes gone in the third quarter when he sank a corner three. It was all he’d get in the frame as the Knicks scored just 18 points in the third on 6-of-20 shooting. Yet, they still only trailed by five heading into the fourth.
“I just felt we got behind early and we were trying to come back and just searching and trying to find energy,” Thibodeau said as to why Barrett was limited on his tough day. “So that’s why we did what we did. Obviously, I’m still very pleased with RJ overall.”
Turning to the rookies in the fourth quarter, the Knicks stayed with it behind Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. The latter posted seven points in five minutes to tie things up at 90 with 6:59 remaining in regulation, a thunderous dunk punctuating his run of over half the Knicks’ first 13 points of the quarter in relief of Randle, who was resting the bench.
Miami regained a slim lead off an ineffective Knicks group that featured Austin Rivers and Elfrid Payton. It prompted Thibodeau to turn back to Quickley with four minutes left to try and flip the script.
They would get to within four within the final minute, but with no timeouts, a Tyler Herro dagger of a three-pointer with 33 seconds remaining put things out of reach.
“We never got established defensively from the start of the game,” Thibodeau said. “We knew it would be an energy game.”
Herro ended the day with 16 points while Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 24 points in the win. Thibodeau’s former pupil in Chicago, Jimmy Butler helped close things out with eight points in the final minutes.
“You have to give them credit. It’s not just Jimmy,” Thibodeau said. “They have Bam and great shooting around them. But you have to make plays down the stretch. The fourth quarter is different.”