3 Observations from the Heat's impressive win over the Knicks

Terry Rozier showed why the Miami Heat traded for him before the deadline and Haywood Highsmith is making himself indispensable.

New York Knicks v Miami Heat
New York Knicks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Three observations from the Miami Heat’s 109-99 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night at Kaseya Center.

1. This is what Terry Rozier is here for

Rozier needed only 15 shots (and six free throws) to score his 34 points in Tuesday’s win. It’s the most points he’s scored in a Heat uniform and he has now scored at least 20 points in three straight games.

His eighth 3-pointer put the game away. The Heat needed a bucket after Jalen Brunson’s floater cut the lead to five with less than a minute to play. The Knicks pressed full court and Miami didn’t get the ball across until there were about 17 seconds left on the shot clock. Miles McBride was physical in defending Rozier and knocked him off his path as he tried to get into a pick-and-roll with Bam Adebayo.

They finally got into it but the Knicks crowded the paint. Rozier kicked out to Haywood Highsmith and attempted to reset the play with 8 seconds left on the shot clock. Jimmy Butler lifted from the weak side, seemingly ready to take the ball and attempt a tough shot.

Instead, Adebayo came up to set another screen. Rozier went over but McBride, on him like glue, went over the screen with him. New York’s Precious Achiuwa was there, too. But with 3 seconds left on the shot clock, Rozier stepped to his right and rose up for a 3-pointer. His made shot with 34.7 seconds left put the Heat up eight and the game away.

Here’s the full sequence:

Make no mistake, this was not an open shot. This is as tough a shot as they come, and Rozier made something out of nothing in the face of an elite defense.

“We just all appreciate his ability to shot create and make shots in those situations,” Erik Spoelstra said.

2. Haywood Highsmith is making himself indispensable

After the Heat took a 12-point lead with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter, the Knicks went on a 12-0 run to tie the game at 92 with 3:59 to go. In all, it was 5:07 of game clock that ticked off without a Heat score.

It looked like it was going to be more. After Rozier was walled off on a drive to the paint, he retreated and handed the ball off to Highsmith. Typically, Highsmith would flow into a dribble handoff with one of Miami’s scorers. There was enough time to do that with 13 seconds on the shot clock. But, instead, Highsmith set his feet and shot a 3-pointer over Brunson. His shot ended Miami’s scoreless drought and sparked a 17-7 run to close the game. 

“I got confidence in myself right now,” Highsmith said, “so I just let it fly.”

Highsmith scored seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, to go along with expert defense on Brunson, who missed all three of his shots with Highsmith guarding him.

Spoelstra knows what Highsmith can provide on defense -- he’s arguably Miami’s best perimeter defender at this point. The issue had been Highsmith’s 3-point shooting. If he wasn’t going to be a factor in spacing the floor then it was difficult to play him around Miami’s stars.

But after making 16 of his last 23 3-pointers, Highsmith is shooting 40.6% on 3s for the season. He played the entire fourth quarter against the Knicks on Tuesday night and could be a fixture in the Heat’s rotation going forward and into the playoffs.

3. Kevin Love returned to the lineup 

Playing in his first game since bruising his heel on Feb. 27, Kevin Love had eight points, three assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench as he reprised his role as Bam Adebayo’s backup. 

Thomas Bryant had been filling in that role admirably, but Love’s ability to space the floor and read the defense is a needed jolt for Miami’s offense and makes things easier for Butler, in particular.

“Kevin gives us something different,” Spoelstra said. “It spaces the floor in a different way.”