Josh Hart ‘did everything’ down stretch to get Knicks back into series
Game on the line — really, season on the line — and Josh Hart didn’t blink.
He didn’t hesitate.
He stepped up and hit the shot that provided the impetus to get the Knicks even in this Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1 as it shifts to Miami this weekend.
Hart’s 3-pointer with 1:38 left pushed a one-point lead to four, and then he made big plays at both ends of the floor the rest of the way, helping the Knicks pull out a gutty, 111-105 Game 2 win over the Heat at a sold-out and exuberant Garden on Tuesday night.
It was similar to his 3-pointer down the stretch in Game 1 of the opening-round series victory over the Cavaliers that gave the Knicks the lead.
“It’s who he is,” Jalen Brunson said. “It’s in his DNA just making the right play at the right time, whether it’s getting an offensive rebound, defensive rebound, making the right pass, getting to the lane or knocking down the big shot. … I have the utmost confidence in him.”
Hart struggled offensively in the opener against the Heat, missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
But he didn’t lose his confidence, producing a fantastic all-around game of 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, along with a team-best plus-16 rating in 33 minutes Tuesday.
Hart was at his best with the game on the line, the Knicks rallying for six down in the final 6:42 to avoid falling into a dreaded 0-2 hole as they head out to Miami. He sank the clutch 3-pointer, scored 10 fourth-quarter points and added four big rebounds. He also played his trademark tough defense, as the Knicks held the Heat to 12 points over the final 7:06 of the fourth quarter.
“In Josh’s case, he did everything, and that’s who he is,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We talk about the playmaking ability, the assists, the big 3s, the rebounds, the defense.”
Hart has been such a vital part of the Knicks since coming over at the trade deadline and reuniting with Brunson, his close friend and former Villanova teammate.
The Knicks are 21-10 since that move. He’s helped them reach another level as a key contributor at both ends of the floor. That was never more evident than the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
Maybe, when this series is over, the Knicks will look back at his 3-pointer in Game 2 the same way they remember his 3-pointer in Game 1 of the Cavaliers series.