The New York Knicks welcomed back Julius Randle and looked to keep rolling against their longtime rivals, the Miami Heat.
The New York Knicks entered Monday night having won four of their last five, and in a prime position to keep it up. Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock returned from one-game absences, which made being without Mitchell Robinson sting just a little less.
The story continued to write itself in the Knicks’ favor for two reasons. First, Monday’s game featured a matchup with the longtime Knicks’ rival, the Miami Heat. Second, Miami entered the game on a six-game losing streak.
Did the game live up to the rivalry with the vibe of the Miami Sound Machine? Or did the action fizzle out like Will Smith’s annoyingly catchy hit?
1st quarter: Vintage rivalry
The good news is early on, this game had vintage New York Knicks-Miami Heat vibes. The bad news is virtually nothing went in the Knicks’ favor. New York missed its first eight shots and shot 33.3% from the field, trailing 21-16 after the first quarter.
To add insult to injury, the Knicks’ depleted frontcourt took another hit when Nerlens Noel exited with a shoulder injury. Even worse, both Randle and Taj Gibson each had two fouls. Worse than that, there were some clear no-calls that favored the Heat.
Even with the score close, the Knicks clearly had an uphill battle ahead.
Halftime report: Run, Knicks, run!
After an ugly first quarter, the New York Knicks completely turned their game around in the second. A key 16-0 run took the wind out of Miami’s sails so much, one would think they instead played in Yeehaw Junction.
Taj Gibson picked up his third foul, but it wasn’t a problem. Cue a returning Nerlens Noel, who finished the half with four points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.
At this rate, the key to victory was simple. Do a collective Forrest Gump impression and keep on running.
3rd quarter: The Butler did it
The New York Knicks had no answer for Miami in the third as they were outscored 39-21. Jimmy Butler scored 15 of those points and finished the third quarter with 23 points on 11 shots.
The Knicks showed signs of life late in the quarter, but dumb fouls and an 11-4 Heat run stifled them. And the fourth quarter awaited.
4th quarter: Can’t take the Heat
The New York Knicks tried, tried, and tried again, but just couldn’t get past the Heat’s tough zone defense. The shots weren’t falling and the team shot just 26.5% from three-point range. Randle had little to no help on offense, though Rose looked his old self with 16 points off the bench.
After a 98-88 loss, this game should be seen as a brutal reminder of how much further these young Knicks have to go.
Player of the game: Julius Randle
Randle continued his MVP season with 22 points on just 17 shots along with eight rebounds.