Jalen Brunson struggles and Knicks offense falters in 109-99 loss to Heat

Once again, on a night when Jalen Brunson was not at his best, the offense could not pick up the slack and the Knicks fell to the Heat in Miami, 109-99, for their third straight loss.

With Julius Randle missing his 29th straight game and OG Aanunoby missing his eighth straight, the Knicks offense just has no margin for error when Brunson isn’t at his best. That was evident when after combing from down 10 to tie it late in the fourth quarter there was nothing left to steal a win in Miami.

With the loss, New York fell to 44-31 on the year to slide into the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, losing a tiebreaker to the Orlando Magic and are now a full game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed. Miami improved to 42-33 and is a half-game behind the Indiana Pacers for the No. 6 seed.

The Knicks now have just seven games remaining to improve on their seeding, with four coming on the road, including games in Milwaukee and Boston.

Here are the takeaways…

– Brunson sounded like he had a cold at shoot around earlier on Tuesday, according to Newsday’s Barbara Barker. “I don’t feel the best, but I’m fine,” he said. The result of Tuesday’s game will surely not alleviate any symptoms for the All-Star guard, who had a rare off night.

Brunson finished with 20 points on 5-for-18 shooting (1-for-6 from three) with 10 assists and two rebounds. He committed five turnovers and was a minus-9 in 36 minutes.

– The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down 10 and clamped down on the Heat, holding them to 3-for-13 from the floor and with a 10-0 run – powered by two Miami turnovers, giving them 17 in the game to that point – New York found themselves down just 92-90 with just under five minutes to play.

Precious Achiuwa tipped in a rebound for his first points of the game to momentarily tie the game a minute later, the first time the game was tied, the closest the Knicks had been since they led 11-10 at the 8:47 mark in the first.

But they wouldn’t get any closer, Achiuwa committed a silly foul before Brunson missed a jumper and dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds on back-to-back possessions amid a 10-2 Miami run that pushed their lead back to 102-94 with two to play.

It was another instant of a Knicks offense running out of gas when their best player – and one true creator on offense – wasn’t at his best.

– The bright spots for the Knicks’ offense came in the form of Deuce McBride and Donte DiVincenzo as the duo combined for 55 points.

DiVincenzo started slow, but finished with 31 points on 11-for-21 shooting (6-for-15 from range) with four rebounds, four assists and four steals, but was a minus-17 in 35 minutes.

McBride had 24 on 9-for-16 shooting (4-for-8 from deep) and was a minus-4 in 45 minutes. He had just three attempts in the fourth quarter, making one three.

The pair carried the Knicks in the third quarter as the team made 10 of 15 from the floor with McBride and DiVincenzo making four buckets each.

– For two teams that pride themselves on tough defense, the shots were falling early, New York made 4 of 8 and Miami 5 of 7 to start. Of course, that did not last for long as both teams began to find iron much more often than nylon. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Brunson was limited to just six points and the rest of the offense struggled for production for the rest of the half. That was less so for the Heat who began the contest 9-for-19 from three.

After the good start, the Knicks made just eight of their next 27 attempts (29.6 percent). To Tom Thibodeau’s squad’s credit, they had held Miami to 10 for their next 25 from the floor but found themselves down 12 with four to play in the half.

And the Heat closed the quarter on a 10-2 run and led by 58-43 when the horn sounded. The Knicks shot 15-for-42 (35.7 percent) from the floor and 6-for-20 (30 percent) from beyond the arc in the first 24 minutes.

Miami guard Terry Rozier torched the Knicks, putting together his third-straight game of scoring over 20 points, and he did so in just 17 first-half minutes, knocking down five threes in the process.

Rozier was the standout player in this one, with 34 points on 10-for-15 shooting (8-for11 from behind the arc) with five rebounds and three assists.

Aside from Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored nine points on six attempts in 10 minutes, the Knicks bench was held scoreless in the first half as bench-scoring continues to be an issue. Bogdanovic finished with 16 points on 6-foer-10 shooting with five rebounds.

Mitchell Robinson, back after missing Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City, played 10 minutes in his return missing his only field goal attempt and a pair of free throws. He had just one rebound and a steal and finished a minus-6 in his third game back after missing 50 games following ankle surgery.


What’s next

The Knicks are back home on Thursday night for the front end of a back-to-back.

New York will host the Sacramento Kings for a 7:30 p.m. tip at Madison Square Garden before hitting the road to start a four-game road trip, the last of the regular season, starting Friday, April 5 in Chicago for an 8 p.m. start against the Bulls.

Source link: https://sports.yahoo.com/jalen-brunson-struggles-knicks-offense-021810484.html




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