Yes, you read this correctly. I know.
The Miami Heat (27-12) blew a 10 point lead heading into the fourth quarter, falling to the New York Knicks (11-29) 121-124 on the road.
After being up as much as 14 late in the third quarter, Miami allowed the Knicks to score 40 points in the final quarter.
Jimmy Butler had an opportunity to even the game up at the free-throw line down 3 but only hit 2. Butler and the Heat had another chance to tie or take the lead, but a costly turnover from an awful pass from Jimmy ruined those hopes.
Julius Randle led the way for New York with 26 points, 11 in the fourth quarter. R.J. Barrett kicked in with 23 points, being a huge X factor late in the fourth quarter.
Reggie Bullock also contributed with 4 three-pointers, finishing with 16 points.
For the Heat, Jimmy Butler led Miami with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Bam Adebayo also did his thing with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
James Johnson took advantage once again with his new role in the rotation, finishing with 19 points on 6-7 shooting and 3-3 from three in 21 minutes of action.
Goran Dragic played arguably his worst game of the season, with 6 points on 3-7 shooting and 5 turnovers.
With this loss and the recent loss against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami is now in a 2 game losing streak for the first time this entire season.
1) The problem wasn’t the offense, but the defense:
Miami did a solid job offensively, shooting 53.8% overall and 40.0% from three. The Heat had 6 players finish with 10+ points and went 23-28 from the free-throw line.
Despite the great stats offensively, Miami was killed defensively guarding the paint. Julius Randle and the Knicks had 72 points in the paint with ease, exposing the lack of size Miami at times struggle with.
The Knicks hit 51.7% of their shots the entire game along with that. Not to mention, Miami also lost the rebounding battle 44-45 and turned the ball over 15 times compared to New York’s 7.
There is no excuse for the lackluster defensive performance the Heat had all night. Miami only had 46 points in the paint compared to the 72 the Knicks had. Although this awful defensive performance, they still only lost by 3.
Coach Spo criticized Miami’s “Ridiculously Poor” defensive performance against Brooklyn a few nights ago. However, the same performance seemed to have happened once again against the Knicks.
2) Jimmy Butler is not the clutch factor all Heat fans expected him to be:
Although the numbers do not show this, Jimmy Butler has not been clutch all season. Whatsoever. Butler hasn’t seemed to be able to hit his free-throws in the clutch the entire season, missing clutch ones against the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers.
I’m not trying to say Butler hasn’t been critical for Miami in late-game situations, but when he has to take the last shot or make the final play to win or tie the game he hasn’t stepped up for the Heat this season.
Butler had a wide-open Goran Dragic in the corner in the final seconds before he threw a sloppy pass to Bam Adebayo in which resulted in a turnover.
Hopefully, Butler can regain that game-winning shot gene we saw him have in Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. It will be something Miami could use tremendously later in the season and eventually in the Playoffs.
3) Heat Fans, no need to panic:
All Heat fans, including myself, were outraged after watching Miami hand New York and Brooklyn a win after giving up fourth-quarter leads. Many are quick to say the Heat should look to acquire another big-man to help Bam Adebayo, but I don’t see it just yet.
If Miami, however, continues to lose games because of rebounds and points in the paint, it will be understandable in that case.
The Miami Heat will look to bounce back from this 2 game losing streak as they face the San Antonio Spurs (17-21) at Home on Wednesday. The New York Knicks will travel to face the Milwaukee Bucks (35-6) on Tuesday.
This loss puts Miami back at the third spot of the Eastern Conference, with the Boston Celtics (26-11) reclaiming the second spot.