From Marc Berman:
The trade looked good. But not good enough.
It didn’t result in a victory, but Derrick Rose juiced the Knicks’ second unit in his debut Tuesday, playing alongside rookie guard Immanuel Quickley in the backcourt.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, though, chose not to close with Rose and the Knicks suffered a heartbreaking 98-96 defeat at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
Rose’s debut in his second Knicks’ stint was a lively success as he rattled home 14 points with three assists in 20 minutes. Rose also registered a block and a steal after not having so much as a shootaround practice with his new club. He shot 5 of 9 — 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
Trailing 98-96, the Knicks had one last gasp but RJ Barrett couldn’t convert a driving layup in the final seconds, though he appeared to have a step on defender extraordinaire Jimmy Butler.
“I thought I had a really good look — a layup going to my strong hand,’’ Barrett said. “I just got to finish those.’’
The Knicks still have to get the chemistry right in wake of the Rose trade with the Pistons. They led by 82-76 after three quarters but couldn’t hold off the Heat.
It wasn’t Rose’s fault, though he got a little sloppy early in the fourth quarter, with a turnover and getting an ill-advised shot blocked. That prompted Thibodeau to use starting point guard Elfrid Payton to close, though Quickley entered in the final minute.
What’s funny is A. how absurd of a first line that is and B. how much it really does match how Knick fans watch these games react, as well, right? Had the Knicks won 99-98, with pretty much the exact game script except one more made three for the Knicks, it would be night and day, reaction-wise, to a 98-96 loss. And that’s perfectly understandable, of course, it’s just pretty funny, as well.
Anyhow, Derrick Rose (who now a very…interesting current look) made a strong return to the Knicks, playing a great first half, but then was a bit out of control in the fourth quarter, leading to Thibs having Elfrid Payton come back in. The fourth quarter had a lot of ugly basketball. I love these particular two shots from the play-by-play…
Jimmy Butler misses driving floating jump shot
Julius Randle misses 20-foot step back jumpshot
Or this sequence (to be fair, the Randle call was almost certainly off of Adebayo and not Randle, but still):
4:42 Elfrid Payton bad pass (Bam Adebayo steals)
4:32 Jimmy Butler bad pass (Mitchell Robinson steals)
4:27 Julius Randle out of bounds lost ball turnover
But in general, I think this was just a well-coached game where both teams gave their all. I actually think Miami needs to pick up one more guy on offense as they looked lost for good chunks of the game, but their defensive intensity never wavered. They’re an excellent defensive team.
Immanuel Quickley had a terrible shooting night, but Thibs still had him back in the game to close things out and he was rewarded by Quickley putting down a big floater to cut the lead to one with 40 or so seconds left.
The final shot of the game was a great move by RJ, but just good enough defense by Butler to make RJ alter the shot just so much that it did not go in.
I liked the minute distribution tonight, except I’d probably play RJ a little bit more and I think Toppin could get more than 11 minutes on a night when Randle played 37 minutes and was not particularly good. I wonder if perhaps Thibs being given his present of Derrick Rose is now told, “Okay, you have your ten guys now, could you please spread the minutes around more.”
In any event, this loss will be long forgotten by the end of Friday night, when the Knicks will likely have kicked the Wizards’ stinky butts. So it’s all good.