By TIM REYNOLDS – AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Just when it looked like the Miami Heat were going to open up some respite at the top of the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks had other ideas.
And a stunning rally could set the stage for chaos down the line.
Immanuel Quickley scored 20 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, leading a huge comeback that carried the Knicks past the shocked Heat, 111-103 on Friday night.
RJ Barrett scored 18 points for the Knicks, who trailed by 17 points with 11 minutes remaining before closing on a 38-13 run and handing Miami a third straight loss — all against teams that lacked top players.
“These guys have been great,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They’ve been training well, they’re playing winning basketball and we just want to keep improving.”
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 30 points. Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo each added 17 for Miami, which was once again without Tyler Herro and saw its lead in the East reduced to half a game over inactive Milwaukee.
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New York turned 18 offensive rebounds into 28 second-chance points.
“A lot of bad rebounds, in my opinion,” Adebayo said. “Collectively, I just have to get back in the trenches, watch the movie and bounce back.”
Markieff Morris opened the fourth quarter with a field goal for Miami that gave the Heat a 90-73 lead — their biggest of the night.
Things changed quickly. Or Quickley, to be precise.
Quickley scored eight points in 58 seconds — two 3-pointers sandwiched around two free throws — to cut the lead back to single digits, and the Knicks beefed up the defense. Miami missed 11 of its next 12 shots, with the Knicks stopping after stoppage and eating away at what was left of the lead.
Obi Toppin added 15 points for New York, five games behind last place in the qualifying tournament with eight games remaining.
“Every day we just try to get better,” Quickley said.
The approach worked on Friday.
Quickley hit a short jumper to tie the game, Quentin Grimes made a 3-pointer on the next possession and the Knicks – much to the delight of many New York faithful who still travel to Knicks games in Miami – had come all the way back to take the lead.
The Heat lost to Philadelphia on Monday night, even though the 76ers didn’t face Joel Embiid or James Harden. They lost to Golden State on Wednesday night, with the Warriors without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
And this defeat against the Knicks was accompanied by the sidelining of many New York players, including Julius Randle. That leaves four teams in the East — Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston — all with 27 or 28 losses, meaning the No. 1 seed is on the line for all of those clubs.
Knicks: Randle missed his third straight game with right quadriceps tendon pain. “Julius just needs a little more time,” Thibodeau said. … It was the fourth biggest comeback of the season for New York. The Knicks rallied 20 against Sacramento on March 7, 21 against Milwaukee on November 5 and 25 against Boston on January 6.
Heat: Butler got his 1,000th assist in a Miami uniform, the 14th player to reach the milestone. Only Tim Hardaway, Sherman Douglas and LeBron James have done it faster than Butler, who got there in his 161st game for the club. … Adebayo has now hit at least 50% of his shots in nine straight games, one close to matching his career-best streak in a season.
Lowry turned 36 on Friday. He’s now 0-6 on his birthdays — five of those NBA losses, the other a Villanova 67-66 loss to North Carolina in the 2005 NCAA Tournament at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, when his 3-pointer in the final seconds wasn’t enough to save the Wildcats.
Miami and New York met 130 times in the regular season – and the Knicks retained the all-time lead, which is now 66-64. The Heat were bidding for their eighth sweep of the Knicks and the second such occurrence in two consecutive years, having done so in 2004-05 and 2005-06 as well.
Knicks: Visit Detroit on Sunday.
Heat: Brooklyn host Saturday.
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