Derrick Rose has hit seven game-winners in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime throughout his NBA career.
But on Rose’s first game back as a Knick, Tom Thibodeau chose not to put him in a tight spot.
Instead, Thibodeau went to his youngest player for the last shot.
The 20-year old RJ Barrett missed on a last-second drive as the Miami Heat survived with another gut-wrenching win, 98-96, over the New York Knicks Tuesday night.
“He just got here. So we’re still working our way through things,” Thibodeau said, referring to Rose. “I just felt we needed people who know what we’re doing. I didn’t want to put him in a situation like that.”
With the Knicks’ best closer on the bench, the Heat pounced on the opportunity to hammer out their second straight close win against the Knicks in three days.
Tyler Herro drained a clutch triple while Jimmy Butler hit a split at the line that spoiled the third reunion of his former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves coach and teammate.
But despite the loss, Rose showed plenty of promise even without the benefit of practice with his new teammates.
He relied on his familiarity with Thibodeau’s schemes and played with his instincts.
For a good stretch, Rose showed flashes of his former elite form that made him the league’s youngest MVP 10 years ago.
The 32-year old Rose, along with rookie sensation Immanuel Quickley, came off the bench with 3:27 left in the first quarter.
Rose quickly made an impact as the Knicks turned a seven-point deficit, 17-24, into a 42-30 lead, bridging the first two quarters.
Rose had 10 first-half points and three assists in under 11 minutes.
But the Heat hit 11 threes in the first half that enabled them to recover and led by two at the break, 57-55.
Elfrid Payton, perhaps feeling the heat with Rose’s arrival, had a strong start with 12 points and three assists in the opening half.
The Knicks would grab another 10-point lead in the second half. But the Heat thrived on the free throw line then made their shots when it mattered to pull off the come-from-behind win.
Miami sank 32 of 39 foul shots while New York only had a total of 16 free throws. Butler and Bam Adebayo combined to shoot 26 of 31 at the stripes for the Heat.
Payton led the Knicks with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Rose finished with 14 points in 20 minutes. He left the game for good with 4:51 left and the tightly-fought match tied at 88-all.
Julius Randle was out-of-sync, bleeding for 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting. His late-game blunder was costly.
After Quickley answered Herro’s triple with a floater to cut the Heat’s lead to one, 97-96, the Knicks had several chances to steal the game.
Reggie Bullock grabbed a Kelly Olynyk miss with 22.6 seconds that set up a bizarre ending for the Knicks.
Instead of milking the clock for the last shot, Randle opted for a tough fadeaway with still 10.2 seconds left.
Butler did an excellent acting job to sell a foul in the mad scramble for the ball. But he could only hit a split off his free throws that gave the Knicks one more shot in the final 6.2 seconds.
Barrett wound up with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, and a big endgame lesson that Thibodeau hoped would toughen him up.
Rose could have written a perfect ending to his fairy tale return to the Knicks, but Thibodeau held him back.
Perhaps Thibodeau is reserving those Rose’s clutch shots when the stakes will be higher.
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