"Honestly, a fan looked at me in my eye over here and said 'this is embarrassing,' so i'll say him," Brunson said in his on-court interview after being asked what spurred the rally.
New York's deficit peaked at 21 late in the third quarter, and it was at 19 early in the fourth. Brunson, who has been red-hot from the past few weeks, did most of his work in the midrange -- which is typically his office but where he has actually struggled so far this year -- making nine of his 12 two-pointers to finish with a team-high 24 points.
Immanuel Quickley poured in 20 off the bench and RJ Barrett, who has been sensational this season, added 18. Brunson, Quickley and Barrett each had three buckets in the fourth quarter. Miami had three total.
"I see 'em every day. They're great workers. They have belief in each other. They're fighters. They're not going to go away easily," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of his guys. "So sometimes it goes our way, and you never know when it changes. They hit us pretty hard to start the third, but we responded. We hit back. And the result ended up being positive for us."
Jimmy Butler, who had a look at what would've been a game-winning 3-pointer, led the way with 23 for the Heat, who had five guys score in double-figures.
"I'm good with that," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler's final shot. "I like that scramble situation. That was what we talked about doing.
"I thought we tried to set up a few too many times in that fourth quarter," Spoelstra continued. "[We] slowed down and it allowed their defense to like pack and get us into late-clock situations. I wish we would've had a few more of those kind of possessions where we got the ball up into Jimmy's hands in a matter of four, five seconds -- or whoever's hands, way more pace. As soon as we start walking into our offense in the fourth quarter, that's our kryptonite."
Oh, by the way, this was an In-Season Tournament matchup. Here are the implications: With the win, the Knicks are in good position to snag the Eastern Conference's one wild card spot.
As it stands, New York is in second place in Group B with a 2-1 record, trailing the Bucks at 3-0, with one group-stage game remaining against Charlotte on Tuesday. If they win that, they will have the inside track on the wild card spot with the best current point differential among non-group leaders at plus-18.
"It means a lot. Everybody's fighting for something," Barrett said of the extra IST incentive. "[The] In-Season Tournament has made especially these games even way more competitive. And I'm happy to come out of here with a win."
"It felt like we was fighting for the playoffs or something," said Julius Randle as the Knicks would've been eliminated with a loss. "It was cool."
Miami, also at 2-1 in Group B but loses the head-to-head to New York, hosts Milwaukee on Tuesday. If the Heat lose, they're done. If they beat the Bucks, depending on the score, things could get interesting as the Heat are currently plus-11 in Group B play.
So let's say the Knicks beat Charlotte by two, taking their point differential to plus-20, but the Heat beat the Bucks by 10, taking their point differential to 21. Miami would get the wild card ... unless Boston, Cleveland or Brooklyn, all of which can still also finish 3-1, were to end up with a better point differential.
You can get all your IST standings, results, dates and scenarios NBA mess. Exactly as Adam Silver planned it.. Put your reading glasses on. It's a beautiful November