The Miami Heat went into Game 2 without their star player Jimmy Butler, and the New York Knicks took advantage of it.
The Knicks picked up the victory at Madison Square Garden, 111-105, in a battle that went back and forth from the second the ball was tipped.
It came down to a pivotal fourth-quarter run for the Knicks, where the Knicks scored 12 to the Heat’s three points, which was capped by Jalen Brunson’s three-pointer to give New York the lead with 4:05 to play.
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Then, a controversial play ensued for the Heat as a heave to the hoop to avoid a shot-clock violation was called an airball, and in turn, Knicks ball. But Heat guard Gabe Vincent was screaming to the referee that the ball hit the rim. It would’ve been two points for the Heat, and a replay showed that it did graze the rim.
Instead, the Knicks use that momentum to hit a floater on the other end thanks to Jalen Brunson to make it 101-96. The Heat got within one on Bam Adebayo’s dunk, but the Knicks started running away after that when Josh Hart hit a corner three and Julius Randle fought hard for an offensive rebound that resulted in a foul and two made free throws, 106-100.
As they’ve shown in the NBA Playoffs thus far, the Heat never quit and they ended up cutting the lead to three with 22 seconds left.
HEAT IN ‘WAITING GAME’ AFTER JIMMY BUTLER ROLLS ANKLE IN GAME 1 VS KNICKS
However, the Knicks did what was needed, as Josh Hart knocked down three crucial free throws to pad the lead in the waning seconds to secure the victory.
With the victory, the Knicks won their first second-round playoff game at The Garden in a decade.
Despite Butler’s absence, the Heat saw contributions from all over, which is why they had a 54-51 lead at halftime. But the Knicks outscored the Heat 60-51 in the second half to pull away with the win.
For the Knicks, Brunson had a game-high 30 points after a very efficient 10-of-19 from the field, including 6-of-10 from three after missing all seven attempts in Game 1. Julius Randle had 25 points after missing out in Game 1 due to injury. He had a double-double with 12 rebounds while tallying eight assists as well.
Hart was one assist shy of a triple-double after dropping 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, while RJ Barrett was feeling it from beyond the arc, hitting five of his nine attempts with his 24 points.
As for Miami, they attempted 49 three-pointers, but hit just 17 of them. Caleb Martin, who slotted in for Butler in this one, hit four of them and went 8-of-15 from the field for 22 points. Vincent also had 21 points for the Heat, while Max Strus dropped 17 points on 7-of-12 from the field.
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The series moves to Miami for Game 3 on Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. ET tip-off.