Nate Robinson wasn’t much more than an afterthought in the new-look Knicks’ lineup when New York acquired him from Phoenix.
The diminutive guard, however, is making coach Larry Brown take notice during the early part of the season.
Robinson was selected 21st overall by Phoenix in the first round, but came to New York along with shooting guard Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas and the draft rights to Dijon Thompson. He entered training camp with significantly less notoriety than fellow first-round pick Channing Frye, selected eighth overall.
But the 5-foot-9 Washington alum has played his way into Brown’s rotation, and went a long way toward securing more time on the floor during Saturday’s 105-102 victory over Philadlephia at Madison Square Garden.
Robinson finished with career highs of 17 points and six rebounds. Most importantly, he answered Allen Iverson’s tying 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left in overtime by drilling a high, arching buzzer-beating shot over the NBA’s second-leading scorer to give New York its second win in three games.
“I just knew if I get it up high enough I would have a good chance of making it,” Robinson said. “So I just shot it hard and let it go.”
Iverson, the NBA’s top small player at barely six feet, praised Robinson’s performance.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” he said. “He’s a tough guard. He’s got the best coach in the world on his side.”
Robinson didn’t do it alone against the Sixers. Stephon Marbury scored a season-high 33 points and Frye added 21 and 11 rebounds for New York, which is 4-3 since an 0-5 start.
The Knicks, who have lost three straight on the road, are 3-1 this season when scoring at least 100 points. They have surrendered 100 just three times, including each of the last two games.
After faring well in their first few weeks without injured center Shaquille O’Neal (ankle), the Heat have lost three of four, including Saturday’s 80-77 setback at Orlando, ending Miami’s eight-game winning streak against the Heat.
Wade, Miami’s top scorer in all but three games this season, led the way again with 21 points and Alonzo Mourning grabbed a season-high 21 rebounds to go with 15 points as the Heat dropped consecutive games for the second time this season.
“We’re not a team that has shown a consistency of energy or intensity,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We want to play only as much as we think we have to play. We put ourselves in some bad situations and we’re taking some tough losses because of it.”
The Heat missed 21 consecutive 3-pointers over the previous two games before Gary Payton hit one to end the third quarter Saturday.
Miami had won six in a row at home before Friday’s 103-90 defeat to Dallas.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 27): Knicks - 4th place, 2 GB, Atlantic Division. Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Knicks - Marbury, 17.7 ppg and 6.4 apg; Eddy Curry, 6.5 rpg. Heat - Wade, 24.9 ppg and 7.1 apg; Mourning, 8.2 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Heat, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: March 19; Heat, 97-82. At Miami, O’Neal scored 33 points and Wade added 30 as the Heat won their 12th straight game overall, and completed their first-ever season sweep of the Knicks. Marbury led New York with 23 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Knicks - 2-6 on the road; Heat - 6-2 at home.