RJ Barrett 46-pt, 9-rebound effort but Heat Prevail. Miami 115 NY 100

RJ Barrett bully-balled the Heat all night with 46 points and 9 rebounds, but the first-place Heat used championship grit to take the game in the 4th at Madison Square Garden on a Friday night. Barrett had a great shooting night — 13-22 including 6-11 from 3, and aggressively attacked the basket all night. The one mar to his performance was 14-22 free throw shooting.

Jimmy Butler — guarded by Barrett in the 4th — amped up his game late to carry Miami to the win, while Julius Randle had another miserable shooting night (2-15, 0-4 from 3 for 11 points) amplified by several key turnovers late in the 3rd and 4th.

“The start of the 4th hurt us,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “That stretch gave them a cushion. And you have to understand there’s a different intensity in the 4th quarter; so your decision making’s different. We got defensive rebounds — but your outlets — safety first on that; those are things you have to fix.”

Thibodeau later added, “obviously our Defense isn’t what it should be right now, so we have to fix that first.”

1. Knicks Hung In

The Knicks jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but Miami closed to within 32-20 at the end of the 1st quarter. Miami came on strong in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Knicks 35-23 to take a 10-point halftime lead. But NY hung tough, led by the awesome game by Barrett, and pulled to within 2 points, 82-80, with a minute left in the 3rd quarter, when Randle drove up court after two missed Butler free throws, with a chance to tie the score — dribbled into traffic, spun around and threw the ball away to Herro who drove the court for a layup and Miami 84-80 lead.

Randle free throws pulled NY to within a point at 86-85. “Randle playing hard but sometimes not smart with the turnovers,” said Walt Frazier at the time. “But you like his energy now; very omnipotent.”

But a poor-decision foul by Randle of Kyle Lowry underneath the Knicks own basket after Lowry rebounded a Randle miss with seconds left in the quarter, allowed Lowry to hit free throws and Miami to take a 90-85 lead entering the 4th.

Coach Tom Thibodeau put Jericho Sims in for Randle to start the 4th. Randle returned with 7:34 left in the game, and only a minute later had another bad turnover, throwing a bad pass out of bounds with 6 minutes left and NY down 103-92. It was that kind of a night for Randle — who had been playing Great ball before the All Star break, and in interviews, said he completely shut basketball off during the rest, only watching a bit of the slam dunk contest because his son is a huge fan and wanted to watch.

Afterwards, NY Post reporter Marc Berman pointed out to Randle that he had a history of the first game out… and Randle interrupted “I told you. I told you — I knew it was going to happen (and laughed) — I just hoped we’d win; I was hoping RJ would save us.”

“I had good practices; was shooting the ball well,” added Randle. “I was shooting the ball well in pregame so I thought maybe I’d break out of this post-All Star game slump. I can’t remember the last good game I’ve had after the All Star break. I know you all will look it up — Berman will definitely look it up.”

2. Barrett a Beast

Meanwhile RJ Barrett was a beast all evening, hitting his jumper, and bully-balling his way to the basket — despite for the most part being guarded by All-NBA defensive specialist Jimmy Butler.

“Man he was attacking every chance he got: in transition; getting to the cup; getting to the free throw line; making the 3 ball,” said Jimmy Butler afterwards. “He had a hell of a game. All around game at that. But we all know he’s capable of that. I don’t think anyone’s surprised, or should be surprised. He’s going to definitely be in this league for a long time, and he’s going to be the face of the Knicks.”

At times Barrett was matched against Tyler Herro — and when he was, he went right at Herro, posting and toasting him constantly.

Barrett had 30 points at the half. He became the second Knick to score 40 or more points before age 22 — the other being Carl Braun.

Herro did what he does best — hit jumpers from everywhere off the bench; he finished with 25 points on 9-18 shooting (4-9 from 3).

3. Robinson Outdone by Adebayo

Mitchell Robinson had 9 rebounds and a block, but had a tough time with 6’9 Bam Adebayo — who had 16 points (on 5-10 shooting), 16 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 assists. Robinson took 1 shot and did not score. That one shot was a postup in the lane in the 2nd quarter, where he spun and shot and missed.

4. Burks at Point; Quickley Another Poor Game

It was announced before the game that Derrick Rose — who was expected to be available for this game after having missed most of the season after ankle surgery — would be out an additional 1 to 2 weeks to treat a skin infection that has developed on his surgically repaired ankle.

Alec Burks got the start at point guard and had 12 pts and 8 rebounds. Immanuel Quickley came off the bench and shot poorly — 3-7 (1-5 from 3) for 7 pts.

The Boxscore


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