The New York Knicks took the first strike in their throwback battle against the Miami Heat, as they claimed a hard-fought 98-96 victory at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

The game was a throwback to the classic Knicks-Heat battles of the 1990s, which were known for their intense physicality and tough defensive play. The Knicks, who were led by the likes of Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and John Starks, battled against the Heat, who boasted a formidable frontcourt of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.

On Sunday, it was the Knicks who showed their toughness and resilience, as they fought back from a double-digit deficit to claim the win. The Heat got off to a strong start, taking a 31-22 lead after the first quarter behind the scoring of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Knicks struggled to find their rhythm early on, as they missed several open shots and turned the ball over multiple times.

But the Knicks slowly began to claw their way back into the game, thanks to the scoring of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Randle, who has been the Knicks’ best player all season, finished with a game-high 26 points and eight rebounds, while Barrett added 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

The Knicks also got a big boost from their bench, as Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley combined for 27 points and eight assists. Rose, who was acquired by the Knicks in a midseason trade, has been a key player for the team off the bench, providing scoring and playmaking.

The Miami Heat offense with their physical play

But it was the Knicks’ defense that ultimately won them the game, as they held the Heat to just 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Knicks, who are one of the best defensive teams in the league, were able to disrupt the Heat’s offense with their physical play and aggressive trapping.

The Heat, who have been struggling in recent weeks, were unable to overcome their offensive struggles, as they shot just 42% from the field and 29% from three-point range. Butler finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Adebayo added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The win was a crucial one for the Knicks, as they are currently fighting for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. The victory moved them into a tie for the fourth seed with the Atlanta Hawks, and gave them some much-needed momentum as they head into the final stretch of the regular season.

For the Heat, the loss was a disappointing one, as they continue to struggle to find their form. The team has been dealing with injuries and COVID-19 protocols all season, and they will need to find a way to bounce back if they want to make a deep playoff run.

Overall, the game was a thrilling throwback to the classic Knicks-Heat battles of the 1990s. Both teams played with a physicality and intensity that is rare in today’s NBA, and the game was a reminder of just how special those battles were. The Knicks came out on top this time, but there’s no doubt that the Heat will be looking for revenge when the two teams meet again later this season.