Early on in the fourth quarter, it looked like the New York Knicks were on their way to dominating the Miami Heat in Game 5. With 9:36 left to play, Jalen Brunson made a layup to push their lead to 13 points. As usual, though, the Heat decided not to fold, battling back all the way until they cut the deficit multiple times in the final period.
Fortunately for the Knicks, Brunson brought his A-game to Madison Square Garden. The Knicks’ prized offseason signing played 48 minutes in the win or go home contest and finished with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
A number of those buckets came at big points in the fourth quarter, where the Heat were threatening to retake the lead. While Brunson scored his last point with 3:38 left to play, he did enough to push his teammates into a position to keep the lead with timely buckets.
Julius Randle added 24 points, five rebounds and five assists in the winning effort as well. RJ Barrett also chipped in 26 points and seven rebounds.
The Heat won’t be worrying too much about the loss as they still have two more chances to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals, and they showed that they can get right back in the game. Jimmy Butler, who had 19 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, four steals and two blocks, managed to cut the lead to 103-101 with 2:37 left to play. He’ll be bringing the intensity again next game and he’s taught all of us to never doubt him.
The bigger question for the Knicks is how Tom Thibodeau can get more out of his bench. He’s got a well-deserved reputation for tiring out his players, and with both Brunson and Quentin Grimes playing 48 minutes today, you wonder if fatigue will be an issue in Game 6. Isaiah Hartenstein is the only reserve player to play over 20 minutes, with Obi Toppin coming in second with 12 minutes. Josh Hart played nine minutes and Miles McBride played a single minute. That predictably led to only eight total bench points.