MIAMI — Here’s just some of the things Julius Randle did in the final seconds Friday night: He lost the ball, fell to the floor, sent New York coach Tom Thibodeau sprawling and collided with a security guard.
Oh, and he hit a game-winner – as the red-hot Knicks found a way again.
Randle scored 43 points, the last of them on a go-ahead 3-pointer off a wildly broken play with 1.7 seconds left, and the Knicks extended their winning streak to eight games with a 122-120 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
WHAT A CRAZY SEQUENCE TO END KNICKS/HEAT 🤯
Tyler Herro steals it and scores for the lead, and Julius Randle follows with a cold-blooded game winner!
The @nyknicks have won 8 straight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/SlZvM1mZSL
— NBA (@NBA) March 4, 2023
“A lot of energy,” Randle said. “Friday night in Miami.”
Tyler Herro had a steal and layup to put Miami up by one with 23.1 seconds remaining. Randle got the ball from Knicks teammate Jalen Brunson with 11 seconds left. It bounced away and Randle had to scurry to just inside the midcourt line to pick it up, clock then down to 9 seconds and with Miami’s Jimmy Butler right on him.
Randle headed toward the sideline, only to have Butler knock the ball away with 5.7 seconds left – yet it somehow stayed inbounds and skipped right back into Randle’s hands. His shot was good, and the celebration was on.
“If you did that play 100 times … 99 times out of that, it’s going to end up in our favor,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Butler was more succinct: “We didn’t deserve to win,” he said after Miami lost for the sixth time in its last seven games.
Randle was 16 of 25 from the floor, including 8 of 13 from 3-point range. Brunson scored 25 points, Immanuel Quickley added 21 and RJ Barrett scored 17 for New York.
Butler scored 33 points and Herro scored 29 for Miami, which got 18 from Bam Adebayo and 14 from Caleb Martin.
Now at 38-27, the Knicks have topped last season’s win total – the sixth team in the NBA to do so already this season, joining Sacramento, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Portland and Orlando.
It was a bad night for Miami (33-31) in the standings. They’re now 4 1/2 games behind No. 5 New York, fell 2 1/2 games behind No. 6 Brooklyn after the Nets erased a 28-point deficit to stun Boston, and saw their lead over No. 8 Atlanta trimmed to a half-game after the Hawks beat Portland.
Atlanta plays its next two games at Miami, the first Saturday and the rematch Monday.
New York led 71-56 at the half, after another first two quarters of Miami being unable to get stops. The Heat also gave up 71 points by the break on Wednesday in a loss to Philadelphia; it’s the first time in the team’s 35-year history that Miami allowed at least 71 points in consecutive first halves.
“When we don’t guard,” Adebayo said. “it gets ugly.”
But Miami got back into the game after halftime, chipping away and eventually got the lead – 107-106, on a 3-pointer by Martin with 5:45 left. The lead changed hands three more times, the last off Randle’s winner.
“Unbelievable,” Thibodeau said.