Brunson, Barrett, & Mitchell Robinson Free Throws. NY 112 Miami 103

Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett had MONSTER games — and Julius Randle played pretty well too — to lead NY back from an early 2nd quarter 10-point deficit to blow Miami off the court in the 3rd — NY taking a a 19-point lead.

Robinson’s HUGE Free Throws Ruin Hack-a-Shaq Strategy

But Miami hit their 3’s and battled back — pulling to within 6 with 5 minutes left when they started Hack-a-Shaq-ing Mitchell Robinson on consecutive possessions to get closer. In a late turning point to the game, Mitchell Robinson stepped up and hit 3 of 4 free throws to keep Miami at bay.

Still Miami pulled closer — within 2 — after yet another Duncan Robinson 3 and consecutive pullup drives by Jimmy Butler.

Barrett CLUTCH; Hartenstein BIG

In a frenetic finish — RJ Barrett came up Big as he’d done all evening, attacking the Miami defense with assuredness for yet another drive with 2 minutes left — this one missed but setting up an Isaiah Hartenstein offensive rebound and HUGE slam for a 4-pt Knick lead. RJ then went 4-4 from the free throw line in the final minute as Miami was forced to foul — CLUTCH free throw shooting.

Grimes with Defensive Play of Game

Quentin Grimes came up with the Defensive play of the game with 1:42 left and NY leading 107-101 — getting hit with an uncalled illegal screen by Bam Adebayo, and injuring his leg — but getting back on the play and STILL stealing the ball from Jimmy Butler to give NY possession, resulting in Barrett free throws.

Mitchell Robinson — back in the game as hack-a-Shaq is illegal in the final 2 minutes of a game — ripped down a rebound of a Kyle Lowry miss, and hit 1 of 2 free throws with 21 seconds left — Julius Randle grabbing the miss and putting it home for the coup de grace.

A heart-stopping, gut-wrenching win. At a rocking, frenetic Madison Square Garden on a Wednesday night — with former players like John Starks seen on the sidelines shouting out instructions to RJ Barrett to “Attack! Attack the drive”.

“The Heat lost to Mitchell Robinson free throws,” summed up @TheyCallMeTak on Twitter.

“There’s nothing really to celebrate,” said Jalen Brunson afterwards. “We obviously won and we get to see another day. This was great but we have to get one down there.”

Game 6 Friday night in Miami. The Knicks have circled the wagons.

1. Miami Feeds off Ref Calls — Take 10-Point Early Lead

The Knicks came out with aggression, but Miami matched it.

The Knicks were maybe too aggressive — and were getting hit with calls. Josh Hart picked up 3 fouls in the first 10 minutes and had to sit down. Knick fans on Twitter were howling. Miami was playing their game — as some Knicks talked about after the prior game — physicality with some veteran flopping to get calls.

Hart’s Questionable Flagrant

On one play, Josh Hart seemed to go straight up to defend a Jimmy Butler 3, Butler kicked his leg out and came down on Hart’s foot — after a review the refs called it not only a foul on Hart but a flagrant foul. “Wow. Wow,” said the TNT announcer, seemingly flabbergasted.

“Another Flop by the Flop specialist,” observed Oyoma McCarley on Twitter — summing up the Tweets of many Knick fans.

The calls gave Miami momentum, and they played free and easy, up 3-1 in the series. They hit their jumpers — Max Strus hit a jumper and a 3, Gabe Vincent hit a 3, Jimmy Butler was penetrating, drawing the D and feeding Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin for buckets inside and NY was down 10 — 24-14 at the end of the 1st quarter.

It was the worst of times.

It looked like nothing the Knicks did would work. Only 14 points in the quarter?

2. Knicks 2nd-Team Counter Punches

And then Obi Toppin came in to start the 2nd. And Quentin Grimes FINALLY hit a 3 for the Knicks, from the corner. And then Brunson grabbed a rebound and fed Obi for a DUNK. And then RJ Barrett knocked down a 3, and Brunson hit a floater, and Barrett hit a drive and it was tie game, 26-26.

And then Brunson hit a floater and Barrett hit Another 3 and NY was up 6.

“Much better job by the Knicks in the 2nd quarter,” said NBA analyst Ross Kreines on Twitter. “When playing the Heat you better find a body when a shot goes up, limit turnovers, close out, keep them off the line, force tempo, play with ball movement and movement off ball rather than sticky ball, and play through every possession.”

Miami came back — NY missed some jumpers and Bam Adebayo got a few buckets inside; RJ Barrett answered with a drive and it was a dogfight to the end of the half.

Julius Randle came up BIG at the end of the half — with NY down 1, he grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled, making 1 of 2 free throws, then grabbed a rebound off a Kyle Lowry 3-pt miss, came up court and hit a 3 near the buzzer to end the half, NY up 50-47. A confidence boost for the Knicks.

3. NY Takes 19-Point Lead in 3rd

And then the Knicks came out with confidence to start the 3rd. Barrett hit a 3; Brunson hit a 3. Brunson hit another 3. Randle hit a 3. Barrett kept driving to the rim for buckets or fouls.

Miami kept missing their 3’s — Kevin Love would go 0-7 in the game — and NY built a 19-pt lead, 73-54 with 5 minutes left in the quarter.

But then Miami finally started hitting their 3’s — Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, and Celeb Martin would go 10-21 from 3 — and that is what got Miami back in the game.

By the end of the 3rd quarter, it was 84-74 NY — Miami was back in it.

4. Frenetic 4th Quarter

Kyle Lowry started off the 4th with a jumper and 1 — Josh Hart — just back in the game — was ruled for a foul from behind. Another iffy call but now Hart had 4 fouls.

The Knicks pushed back with scoring by Brunson and Hartenstein, but Duncan Robinson hit a 3, and Kyle Lowry hit two 3’s and Miami was within 4 — 92-88 with 8 minutes left.

It was absolutely defeating — all looked lost again. The big lead was gone.

Brunson’s & Barrett Battle Back

But Jalen Brunson hit a HUGE 3 while the TNT announcers were talking about something else — almost surprising them. Duncan Robinson countered with a 3 — again a 4-pt game.

Then RJ Barrett stepped up again — yet another assured, power drive to the bucket — feeding Mitchell Robinson for a SLAM — NY up 97-91 with 5:54 left.

Duncan Robinson missed a 3, and Caleb Martin was denied on a drive after an offensive rebound — NY had the ball and Miami went to the Hack-a-Shaq on Mitchell Robinson — leading to the finish described above.

5. Barrett MONSTER Game

RJ Barrett had a MONSTER game. All night long, he attacked the Miami defense with efficient drives to he basket, scoring or feeding Mitch Robinson for Alley Oops. He put pressure on the D, hit huge 3’s and 2-pointers, and hit ALL of his CLUTCH free throws. He was very sure with the ball.

“We’re fighting for our lives right now,” said RJ Barrett afterwards. “This is something that can be done. It’s been done before 13 times.”

Barrett finished with 26 pts on 8-17 shooting (3-8 from 3, 7-8 in free throws), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a block (of a Jimmy Butler drive) and a game-high +17.

6. Brunson MONSTER Game

And it goes without saying that Brunson had a MONSTER game as well: 38 points on 12-22 shooting (4-10 from 3, 10-12 in free throws), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and only 1 turnover in 48 minutes.

7. Grimes Tremendous

Grimes was tremendous — with tough Defense on Jimmy Butler all night — 8 pts on 3-8 shooting (2-6 from 3) — and making the defensive play of the game as mentioned at the top and shown below.

Another view:

8. Brunson & Grimes Play All 48 Minutes

Quentin Grimes and Brunson played all 48 minutes. It was 50 years to the day when Walt Frazier — who was sitting courtside — played 48 minutes in a Game 5.

9. Randle Terrific

Julius Randle was simply terrific — again. He played efficiently and trusted the pass: 24 pts on 7-13 shooting (4-7 from 3; 6-10 in free throws), 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

10. NY Out-Rebounds Miami

Mitchell Robinson was a terror inside — ripping down rebounds and defending the interior. He had 8 points and 11 rebounds with 2 steals in 26 minutes. Isaiah Hartenstein played Big as well — 4 pts and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. Obi Toppin also ripped down big rebounds during the Knicks’ 2nd quarter run — he had 6 rebounds and a +9 in 12 minutes.

NY outrebounded Miami 50-34.


When asked about Miami’s Hack-a-Mitch strategy at the end, and what he was thinking at the time, Mitchell Robinson said, “I’m knocking these down.”

John Starks could be seen on the sidelines in the 4th quarter imploring Barrett to “attack. Attack the drive.”

The Boxscore

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