Randle scores 43, Knicks win 8th straight, top Heat 122-120

MIAMI (AP) — 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.

“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.

TIP-INS

Knicks: New York has averaged 66.2 first-half points in its last nine games after managing only 40 at Orlando in the first 24 minutes on Feb. 7. ... Randle had 25 points at halftime; his previous high for a full game against Miami was 26, done twice.

Heat: PG Kyle Lowry missed his 11th consecutive game with left knee soreness, and will miss another on Saturday when Miami plays host to Atlanta. Lowry is hoping to return at some point next week. ... The Heat allowed New York to shoot 58%.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

It’s New York’s second eight-game winning streak of the season, joining one from December. The Knicks haven't had a season with two eight-game win streaks since 1972-73 — the last season in which they won an NBA title.

PLAYING FAVORITES

The Heat, who entered Friday as 2-point underdogs, were 1.5-point favorites by tip-off according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That marked the 46th time in the last 48 Heat-Knicks games, including playoff matchups, since Dec. 25, 2009, that Miami entered as a favorite. The exceptions were a home game in 2013 and a road game in 2017.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Visit Boston on Sunday.

Heat: Host Atlanta on Saturday.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press