Tom Thibodeau on Knicks' Game 3 loss: 'Offensively we didn’t play the way we wanted to'

Jan 4, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau coaches against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After evening up the series against the Miami Heat in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks laid an egg in Game 3 at FTX Arena, scoring just 86 points en route to a blowout loss that now has them down 2-1 in the series.

Following the loss, almost every player interviewed said a variation of the same thing: the Heat threw the first punch and New York wasn’t able to counter, something the Knicks have been so adept at doing this season.

“We’ve been able to do that all year, today not so much,” said Julius Randle. “But hopefully we can get back on the right track with that and find a way to make some shots next game and come out with a win.”

Down from the start, what killed New York’s chances of getting back into the game was its horrendous three-point shooting. The Knicks went 8-for-40 from deep with Josh Hart and RJ Barrett the only starters to make at least one three-pointer.

Their two big guns, Randle and Jalen Brunson, were a combined 0-for-10 from behind the line.

“They played from a lead the whole game. You give a team a cushion, it’s hard,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau. “And every time we seemed to have a crack at getting back into it, we didn’t make the next one.”

The Knicks weren’t much better elsewhere, though, as they shot 34 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Heat didn’t shoot lights out either, going 7-for-32 from beyond the arc and shooting 39 percent overall. Miami did, however, go 28-for-31 from the charity stripe.

“I thought defensively we were solid, but offensively we didn’t play the way we wanted to,” Thibodeau said. “And I don’t put it on any one player because I think it’s done collectively.”

Coming off an ankle injury that saw him miss Game 2, Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 28 points which gave the Heat all the energy they needed.

It’s something that the Knicks should look at and try to emulate for Game 4 on Monday night, whether it’s Randle or Brunson – both of whom are also coming off ankle injuries – or someone else entirely.

“Offensively we need energy too, and that was the bigger concern,” Thibodeau said. “And then we got to trust the pass, so when we trust the pass we’ll create good shots. We got bogged down and the offense was hard, and give credit to them, they played great defense.”