The trade looked good. But not good enough.
It didn’t result in a victory, but Derrick Rose juiced the Knicks’ second unit in his debut Tuesday, playing alongside rookie guard Immanuel Quickley in the backcourt.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, though, chose not to close with Rose and the Knicks suffered a heartbreaking 98-96 defeat at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
Rose’s debut in his second Knicks’ stint was a lively success as he rattled home 14 points with three assists in 20 minutes. Rose registered a block and a steal after not having so much as a shootaround practice with his new club. He shot 5 of 9 — 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
Trailing 98-96, the Knicks had one last gasp but RJ Barrett couldn’t convert a driving layup in the final seconds with Jimmy Butler all over him.
The Knicks still have to get the chemistry right in wake of the Rose trade with the Pistons. They led by 82-76 after three quarters but couldn’t hold off the Heat.
Quickley’s minutes weren’t affected as expected, but his shot was. Quickley was just 1 of 8 from the field before hitting a key floater with 40 second left to cut the deficit to a point.
Julius Randle, coincidence or not, also never got into his All-Star groove, shooting 4 of 18 for 12 points. Barrett (13 points), benched late in the previous game against Miami, did not have a particularly good game either despite having a chance to be the last-second hero.
It was 94-94 when Randle shot an open 18-footer from up top off the back iron. Miami’s Tyler Herro, their NBA bubble playoff hero, drained a 3-pointer with 1:04 left. After Quickley’s basket, Randle drove and missed an off-balance jumper from the right side with six seconds left.
Rose got a little sloppy early in the fourth quarter, with a turnover and having an ill-advised shot blocked. That prompted Thibodeau to use starting point guard Elfrid Payton to close, though Quickley entered in the final minute.
Payton played well, too, scoring 18 points with four assists.
The Knicks, who lost both ends of the home-and-home to fall to 11-15, will have to get the chemistry down pat.
Rose and Quickley entered the game as a tandem with 3:27 left in the first quarter, making it clear Austin Rivers, who signed in November, was no longer part of the rotation.
Down eight points, the duo went to work very quickly. Rose found Quickley for a 3-pointer. Quickley found Rose for a 3-pointer. Rose made a steal then drove the baseline and made a sensational pass to Burks for a corner 3-pointer.
Then he hit rookie Obi Toppin off a pick-and-roll for the slam.
In Rose’s and Quickley’s first 7:13 as a backup backcourt tandem, the Knicks went on a 25-5 run. Rose and Quickley were a plus-20 and got the Knicks ahead by 12 points. Overall, their point guard play was terrific Tuesday as Payton drove his way for 12 points in the first half.
The Knicks couldn’t hold the advantage, though, because Miami’s outside-shooting big man Kelly Olynyk caught fire. He finished with 17 first-half points, draining 5 of 6 3-pointers as Miami led 57-55.
Before the game, Thibodeau swooned over Rose, calling him still an “elite’’ player, adding, “He’s telling me this is as healthy as he’s been.’’