Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau goes with RJ Barrett down the stretch


MIAMI – Tom Thibodeau insists he doesn’t have a set finishing lineup.

The Knicks coach proved that Friday night when he went with RJ Barrett instead of Emmanuel Quickley as his closer in the Knicks’ dramatic 122-120 win over the Heat.

“As it was going on. I thought RJ gave us something [good] minutes,” Thibodeau said. “I wanted to get a different type of player to attack the rim when the ball came out [to the perimeter].

“Both guys are fantastic and both guys played well. Every night it will be different.”

Barrett scored 17 points on 8-for-15 shooting, though he missed all of his 3-point attempts. Quickley scored 21 points and was 5-for-9 from deep.

Thibodeau is going with Quickley over Barrett in late crunch time. He added Quickley back into the game for the final minute.

RJ Barrett, who scored 17 points, goes for a shot between Caleb Martin (right) and Tyler Hero.

Jalen Brunson sprained his right ankle late in the third quarter and had it taped before returning early in the fourth. He showed no side effects and played the final 10:53. He finished with 25 points and eight assists in 35 minutes.

“He’s going to give you everything he’s got. You know he’s tough-minded,” Thibodeau said. “He’s going to make plays. He’s full of shit, he keeps going, he never stops.”

Jaylen Brown is hit by Gabe Vincent as he goes up for a shot during the first half of the Knicks' 122-120 win over the Heat.
Jaylen Brown is hit by Gabe Vincent as he goes up for a shot during the first half of the Knicks’ 122-120 win over the Heat.

One of the biggest challenges facing the Knicks, who have won eight straight games and 13 of 17, is keeping overconfidence from creeping in.

“I think the biggest thing is making sure everyone is focused on what we have to do. Go step by step, don’t take any shortcuts,” Thibodeau said. “Be humble and be hungry. Things can change very quickly in this league. You can go from good to bad really fast and from bad to good really fast.

Mitchell Robinson, who went 1-1 from the field, made 18 consecutive shots.

He is one shy of Johnny Newman’s franchise record of 19, which was set from January 1-8, 1988.

The Heat were without point guard Kyle Lowry (knee).

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