GRUELING. 5 Reasons Why Miami 109 NY 103 on 2-7-21

A tough game for the Knicks — the second game in 2 days; both 1 pm starts — on Saturday and Sunday at a COVID-empty MSG — and Miami in, who had just blown out Washington on Friday night; the defending division champs getting their act together with Jimmy Butler back in the lineup. Two good Defensive teams going after each other at a frenetic pace all afternoon — a Sunday afternoon with 6 inches of snow coming down hard since 9:30am, and ending just after the game ended at 3:15pm.

1. Tired? Grueling Game Played at Frenetic Pace

If for a couple of Elfrid Payton layups that rolled in and out, this might have turned out differently. Or if RJ Barrett showed up — he was there but only played 19 minutes, took only 6 shots, and scored only 3 points. He didn’t play at all in the 4th quarter. One wondered if he had incurred a minor injury. Marc Berman of the NY Post wrote afterwards that Barrett was yanked for missing a defensive assignment.

Payton played well enough — attacking the paint from the start, and playing good defense — but several times during the afternoon he penetrated to the basket only to see his layup roll in and out. He finished with 7 pts on 3-12 shooting — should have been like 6 or 7-12 if those layups had gone in; part of that was due to the pressure Miami’s Defense was putting on him.

The Knicks should have been gassed, after the tough, physical win the day before and then playing at such a frenetic pace all afternoon against the tough Miami defense orchestrated by Eric Spoelstra. The game was played with playoff intensity throughout.

It was 94-94 with 4:38 left in the game. And it was 98-96 Miami with 2:37 left when Mitchell Robinson missed an inside tip shot off an offensive rebound that would have tied the game; instead it went the other way where Kelly Olynyk dunked off a pass from Jimmy Butler. Alec Burks hit a 3 to keep the Knicks in the game at 101-99, but the Knicks couldn’t score two times down against Miami’s defense (a missed jumper by Julius Randle and a missed 3 by Burks) and when Tyler Herro hit a 3 to make it 106-99 with 33 seconds left it was ballgame.

That close.


2. Randle = All Star

Julius Randle played at an incredible, all-star level all afternoon — hitting 3’s to keep the Knicks in it just when it looked like they had run out of gas.

Randle had 26 pts on 10-18 shooting (3-8 from 3), 13 rebounds, 7 assists — and carried the Knicks throughout the afternoon in second game of the back-to-back.

3. Big Game Bullock

For the second straight game, it was clearly evident what coach Thibodeau has been seeing in Reggie Bullock. He played excellent defense — and in this one — showed off firepower — hitting 3 after 3 early in the game. The Knicks raced out to a 15-5 lead, before Miami stormed back with a 16-3 run of their own; after which the two teams slugged it out all afternoon.

Bullock finished with 21 pts on 7-17 shooting (7-14 from 3).

4. The Rose Trade

As the game was starting, reports came over Twitter by Shams that the Knicks were finalizing a deal with Detroit for Derrick Rose. And so that loomed in the air as the game began — what it would mean for playing time in the backcourt for Elfrid Payton, Emmanuel Quickley, and Austin Rivers. Pre-game announcer Rebecca Haarlow, and announcers Kenny Albert and Walt Frazier seemed completely unaware of the trade. Finally 10  minutes into the game, Kenny Albert mentioned there were numerous reports that the Knicks were finalizing the deal. We had alerted Kenny via a tweet — and a few minutes later he mentioned the trade; perhaps one of the numerous reports was our tweet to him.

5. Quickley

As the 4th quarter began, the Knicks could have used an injection of energy and scoring from Immanuel Quickley. He was out there with the second team, but it was Obi Toppin who shined with some inside buckets.

Miami trapped Quickley and sent taller defenders at him to deny him taking 3’s. On defense, it seemed Miami had whomever Quickley was guarding go at Quickley — either Tyler Herro or 6’3 point guard Tyler Vincent. Quickley still ended up with a +3 in 17 minutes — 5 pts on 1-4 (0-2 from 3) shooting but 3-3 from the line.

Other Knicks

Alec Burks was a sharpshooter all afternoon — #3 offensive gear for the Knicks behind Randle and Bullock. Burks finished with 13 pts on 5-9 shooting (3-6 from 3).

Mitchell Robinson was a big part of the Knicks Defense all afternoon — 32 minutes, 7 rebounds, 6 pts, but picked up 5 fouls trying to guard Bam Abedayo, who outdid him with a polished offensive game: 24 pts on 10-17 shooting, 11 rebounds, 5 assists.

Taj Gibson played well in Nerlens Noel‘s absense (minor injury). Austin Rivers also played well.

The Boxscore


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