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Jalen Brunson’s 41 points not enough as Knicks season ends in Game 6 loss to Heat

MIAMI — Jalen Brunson brought them there. His team was kicking, screaming and scrubbing along the way, but Brunson somehow had the Knicks within striking distance in the fourth quarter.

There was a real chance to bring the series back to New York for a Game 7, which would’ve represented the biggest NBA basketball game at MSG in over 20 years.

But while Brunson was doing everything and scoring 41 points, his teammates were collectively putrid. Especially RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.

As a result, a 96-92 defeat in Friday’s Game 6 was the curtains on the Knicks’ season. A solid season but a disappointing final act.

“For me, we did a lot of great things this season,” Brunson said. “We obviously want the team to keep playing, to have the opportunity. It stings a little bit, definitely a learning experience.

“But if you don’t win, you lose.”

Randle continued his ugly playoffs by scoring just 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting. He was joined in the Houdini act by Barrett, who endured his worst performance of the series, by far, while finishing with 11 points on 1-of-10 from the field.

“I played terrible. I’m very disappointed in how I played today,” Barrett said. “I don’t know. Just, it’s a lot right now. You fight for something; you want something so bad and then I personally did not — I don’t feel like I played my best.”

Randle, unlike Barrett, wasn’t critical of his performance. He was a disaster through the two rounds of the playoffs, yet reflected on it as “the same as the regular season.”

“Some good moments,” Randle said. “And some moments to learn from.”

Brunson, on the other hand, was brilliant. He shot 14-for-22. The other starters combined to shoot 5 for 34.

“How is that dude not an All-Star or All-NBA?” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about Brunson. “He should be on one of those teams. I wish he was still out West. You gotta respect him as a competitor. He’s like a lot of our guys in our locker room. He’s got an iron will.”

Brunson’s lone pockmark on the evening was huge. With 16 seconds remaining and a two-point Knicks deficit, Brunson’s pass to Randle in the paint was a little off-target and landed in Kyle Lowry’s hands for a turnover.

An opportunity was gone. The Knicks, seeded fifth, won their first playoff series in a decade against No. 5 Cleveland but fell in six games to shorthanded No. 8 Heat.

“We fell short,” Brunson said. “As a team, we fell short.”

They fell short to an opponent more poised and to a competitive firecracker in Jimmy Butler.

The Heat star was coming off his worst game in the playoffs, a Game 5 loss Wednesday at MSG when he was outplayed by Jalen Brunson. Afterward, Butler said he was ready to play 48 minutes in Game 6 — he logged 41 instead — and declared, “We’ll win.”

Adebayo predicted powerful revenge.

“It’s Playoff Jimmy. We know the type of mindset he gets into if he feels some sort of disrespect I feel like he isn’t being who he is,” Adebayo said. “So I think the biggest thing for Jimmy is he’s going to come out in that mode tonight. You might see a different type of him that we didn’t see in New York.”

It didn’t quite work out like that. Butler was pressed by the Knicks’ defense and made plays when necessary, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Adebayo added 23 points.

On the other end, the Heat threw the kitchen sink at Brunson. Full court press. Two defenders on the ball. It didn’t matter. The point guard would find a smidgen of space, a moment of brief Miami lapse, and exploit it with a quick step and fadeaway.

Overall, it was an encouraging campaign, a ride to unexpected success for Tom Thibodeau’s squad. But the playoffs presented pressing questions about the future, specifically regarding Randle and his inability to produce anything in a pressurized environment.

His teammates provided no help, however. Specifically Randle. And the Knicks’ season ended in South Beach.


Josh Hart added a pair to his family.

The Knicks reserve guard became a father to twin boys Friday, and he watched the birth via zoom from Miami while awaiting Saturday’s Game 6.

Hart, 28, was acquired via trade from Portland in February while his wife, Shannon, was pregnant. He’s a free agent after the season and the expectation is the Knicks re-sign him on a lucrative multi-year deal.

Hart was a revelation for the Knicks during the regular season and the opening series against the Cavaliers, but disappeared in the second round.

In Game 6, however, he was more productive over 33 minutes while scoring 11 points.

“Really happy for him. He’s going to be an unbelievable father,” Brunson said. “Obviously, don’t know what he’s going through, probably a great feeling. Tonight for him was a win-win situations. We win, we get another chance, lose he gets to go home and see his two beautiful boys. It’s a really amazing time for him. Really happy for him.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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