Jalen Brunson scored 30 points and was instrumental in the surge that the New York Knicks needed just in time to go past a Miami Heat club playing without Jimmy Butler. The Knicks won 111-105 on Tuesday night, leveling the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game each.
RJ Barrett scored 16 of his 24 points in the first quarter to lead the No. 5-seeded Knicks to victory. Julius Randle scored 25 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in his comeback game after being sidelined in Game 1 with an injured left ankle. At the end of the game, Josh Hart had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
Julius played with a lot of heart and showed a lot of toughness. The Knicks head coach, Tom Thibodeau, said about Jalen Rose: “I thought Jalen was fantastic.” “RJ had a huge, huge start to the game for us, but after that, we had a number of guys step up to get the job done.”
However, Brunson made the most important plays for the Knicks in a game in which they were down for most of the time. After going 0 for seven from 3-point range in the first game of the season, Brunson claimed he needed to improve and blamed himself for his poor shooting performance.
In Butler’s absence, the Heat’s Caleb Martin scored 22 points on their way to victory in Game 3, which will take place on Saturday afternoon at their home arena. They will be hoping that their top scorer in the playoffs, Butler, who was forced to sit out after spraining his right ankle late in their game-one win over their opponent (108-101), will be available to play for them.
They were nearly in a position where they didn’t need him.
Because of undrafted players Martin and Gabe Vincent, Miami had a six-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter. This was before Brunson labeled doubtful with a painful right ankle, took over the game. Brunson was able to take advantage of the situation.
The three-pointer he shot turned into a four-point play when Isaiah Hartenstein was fouled during the play. The point guard then scored to tie the game at 93 after the foul put him in the bonus.
Vincent’s three free throws gave the Heat a 96-93 lead, but Hart responded with a three-pointer to tie the game. Brunson then sank a three-pointer and scored again to push the score to 101-96 with 2:48 left on the clock.
Brunson shot 60% from beyond the arc throughout the game.
“We feel a certain way right now that we weren’t able to find a way to get this win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game, “but we’ll get over it, and we’ll get ready for Saturday.”
After starting the first 77 games of the season, Randle suffered his first injury on March 29 during a win against the Heat. After his comeback, he could participate at the beginning of the playoffs; however, he was not at his best throughout most of the series against Cleveland. He ended up re-injuring the ankle in the decisive game.
He played considerably better for a Knicks club attempting to improve their chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. The Knicks last made it to the finals in 2000, when they defeated Miami in seven games to earn the right.
“Whatever it takes to win the game,” stated Randle.
As the Heat focused their attention on Randle during the Knicks’ first three points, the Knicks’ shooters took advantage of the wide space on the perimeter. Randle contributed two assists to the Knicks’ scoring. However, the eighth-seeded Heat kept pace with the Knicks by making six three-point shots, and the Knicks only led by a score of 31-29 after the first quarter.
The Heat played a more defensive game from then on, just as they did in the first game. They held the Knicks scoreless for the first eight and a half minutes of the second quarter, extending their advantage to 46-38. After Kevin Love made a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in the half, they led 54-51 going into the locker room.
Brunson’s three-pointers and another basket gave the Knicks their first lead since the third quarter, but Vincent’s basket gave the Heat a 77-76 advantage going into the game’s final period. The Knicks were eventually able to regain the lead.
Vincent led the Heat in scoring with 21 pointS. Max Strus completed the game with 17 points, although he was forced to leave the court early in the second half due to a lower back injury. He returned to the game later and scored 8 points.
Mitchell Robinson, the starting center for the Knicks, was ejected from the game after committing two fouls in the first 2:31 of the game and sitting out the rest of the first quarter. Comedians Chris Rock and Mike Myers, tennis legend Roger Federer, a former All-Star for the New York Knicks named Carmelo Anthony, and actress Jessica Alba were among those in attendance.