It was the shorthanded Knicks who would draw first blood and score the first two buckets of the game. Miami struggled to score in the opening minutes, but thanks to a short jumper by Luke Babbitt eventually got on the board.
Regardless, it was the Knicks’ Willy Hernangomez who would cause the Heat much grief early scoring 7 of their opening nine points. Ron Baker and Kristaps Porzingis would contribute from beyond the arc creating a large scoring gap.
Though the Heat did eventually find their offensive rhythm thanks to Goran Dragic but, their defense remained poor allowing the Knicks to find many open looks from three.
The Heat would find success with their reserves and keep the score close thanks to a solid effort from James Johnson and Wayne Ellington.
The Heat were hot to start the second quarter and as a result would take the lead back off of a Tyler Johnson fadeaway. Miami’s main woe seemed to be turnovers as the Knicks converted many into baskets sparking a 7-0 scoring run.
Miami would claw back into the game off of Wayne Ellington’s hot hand and bring the game within two, but the Knicks wouldn’t let up. The Knicks even without Melo and Rose seemed more aggressive than the Heat and that would prove costly.
As the first half wined down Miami’s defensive was significantly average and Hassan Whiteside was nearly invisible. Luckily they were able to hit some key shots down the stretch and would head into the second half down only four.
Miami was strong out the gate to start the third quarter with a Babbitt three and soon after a crafty Dragic bucket. However, the Heat would take some questionable shots on the offensive end costing them scoring opportunities. Miami’s starting lineup lacks a scoring punch and it almost seems as if they’re buying time for Tyler and James Johnson to enter the game. It’s ineffective and poor response to Dion Waiters’ absence.
Thankfully, Hassan Whiteside started to find some life with a block and alley oop, and didn’t slow down as he feasted in the paint.
The entry of Miami’s reserves would help in the scoring assault and allow Miami to take the lead once more. The Knicks would fight back and steal the lead once again and the Heat would enter the final quarter down two.
The Heat were scrappy to start the fourth as they went after tough baskets, and made some key blocks. It was Tyler Johnson who led the charge for Miami as he scored 6 points in the opening minutes of the fourth. The Knicks would answer back with a 5 point scoring run forcing Miami to take a timeout and regroup.
Though Miami struggled to score field goals, the Knicks began to bail the Heat out by fouling them and doing so often. The Heat searched for opportunities to take over, but their terrible defense prevented them from doing so. Additionally, while Miami thrives off ball movement Dragic elected to put on his best Russell Westbrook impression and attempt to do everything himself. Unfortunately he couldn’t score causing an ill timed scoring draught and allowing the Knicks a chance to takeover the game.
Miami would get lucky on multiple calls, and force turnovers bringing them within two points of the Knicks, however missed free throws wouldn’t help there case for a win. With 6 seconds left, Dragic drove to the rim for a layup that rimmed out, unfortunately Hassan Whiteside would interfere with the ball while it was still in the cylinder putting the Heat in an incredibly tight spot. With barely any time on the clock the Heat were forced to foul Courtney Lee who hit both his free throws effectively knocking the game out of reach for the Heat.
Miami did not play well tonight. They had many opportunities to take over the game and just couldn’t. There were times where they didn’t play like a team and it cost them down the stretch. This was an incredibly important game for the Heat and now it will be that much harder to secure a spot in the playoffs.