NEW YORK – Tom Thibodeau stuck with the same five players, three off his bench, for the entire fourth quarter of a key victory.
Those guys may need to keep producing in the clutch if the New York Knicks have to play for long without Julius Randle.
Immanuel Quickley scored 24 points, Quentin Grimes had 23 and the Knicks moved closer to a postseason berth with a 101-92 victory Wednesday night that sent the Miami Heat closer to the play-in tournament.
Josh Hart added 13 for the Knicks, who overcame the loss of Randle to a sprained left ankle to win their second straight and remained firmly in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and opened a four-game gap over the seventh-place Heat.
They did it with reserves Quickley, Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein going all 12 minutes, along with Grimes and RJ Barrett.
“The way they were playing was incredible and they just found a way to keep fighting, and everything they were doing on both sides of the ball, they were clicking,” point guard Jalen Brunson said. “So you’ve just got to go with that.”
Brunson returned after a two-game absence with a sprained right hand. Now the Knicks will wait to see about Randle, who will be evaluated Thursday. The All-Star forward has started all 77 games.
“I thought our bench was terrific,” Thibodeau said. “So next guy get in there, next man up, get it done and that’s the way we have to approach it.”
The top six teams are guaranteed postseason spots. The Heat’s third straight loss dropped them 1 1/2 games behind the Nets.
“Losing is what got us here,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “None of us feel good about it. This is where we are. You are what your record is. You are what has happened recently. But things can change quickly. ... The only solutions we have right now are in that locker room. We have the competitive character.”
Brunson scored 12 points, and RJ Barrett also finished with 12 after shaking off an 0-for-8 start. New York visits Cleveland on Friday in what could be the preview of the 4-5 matchup in the East.
Gabe Vincent scored 21 points and Tyler Herro had 16 for the Heat, who faded down the stretch after losing in Toronto on Tuesday. The No. 1 seed in last year’s East playoffs are searching for answers why they might not even get in this time.
“We didn’t win games. At the end of the day, that’s what it is,” Jimmy Butler said. “I don’t know why we didn’t win. Probably because the opposing team scored more points than we did. That’s literally what happened.”
The Knicks led 86-85 midway through the final quarter before Hart had a pair of baskets and Grimes added four points in a 9-0 burst that pushed it to 95-85 on Quickley’s free throw with 4:17 remaining. The Heat never made another run.
Randle sprained his left ankle late in the second quarter when Bam Adebayo landed on him after Randle had grabbed an offensive rebound and faked the Heat’s center in the air. Randle remained in to shoot the free throws, but was clearly in pain and the Knicks quickly fouled to check him out of the game.
The Heat led 23-19 after a first quarter in which New York went 0 for 6 on free throws. Brunson made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give New York a 48-46 halftime edge.
Heat: Kyle Lowry sat out the second half of the back-to-back after playing Tuesday against his former team. ... Butler returned after not playing Tuesday and had 12 points.
Knicks: The Knicks urged fans to sing “Happy Birthday” to Hall of Famer and MSG Network announcer Walt Frazier during the first quarter. ... Randle visited the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Charter School in the Bronx on Tuesday for the presentation of an $880,000 check, the result of a campaign that began when he pledged to donate $500 for every 3-pointer he made over two seasons and was joined by other individuals and organizations.
Actors Everett Osborne, Jeremy Piven and Cary Elwes, who star in the upcoming “SWEETWATER,” were at the game. Osborne plays Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, a former Harlem Globetrotter who signed with the Knicks, becoming the first Black player to sign a contract with an NBA team.
Heat: Host Dallas on Saturday.
Knicks: At Cleveland on Friday.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports