78.6 F
New York
Friday, May 24, 2024

Jalen Brunson notches 4th straight 40-point game, Knicks win

SportsJalen Brunson notches 4th straight 40-point game, Knicks win

NEW YORK — Jalen Brunson‘s historic scoring run is marching onward as a new opponent feels his wrath.

Brunson had yet another brilliant fourth quarter Monday, with relentless basket attacks and masterful shot creation leading to 21 of his 43 points as the New York Knicks clawed out a 121-117 Game 1 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Reminiscent of his late-game flourishes in the previous round against the Philadelphia 76ers, Brunson now has 40 points in four straight playoff games. Added to his six assists, he became the first player in NBA history to have a run of four consecutive 40-point, 5-assist playoff games.

“The little things can go a long way,” Brunson said. “So yeah, the 40 points are cool and all, but it’s the little things that help us win games like that. So I’m just happy I have the group of guys that I do. I just know that we’re going to fight every single day. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

Brunson has scored or assisted on 321 points in his past five games, the second most over a five-game span in NBA postseason history. He trails only Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic from last postseason (329 over five playoff games).

The final assist in Game 1 was the biggest. Just as he did in the last two victories over the 76ers, Brunson took advantage of defenders rushing at him to fire a laser to Donte DiVincenzo. His former Villanova teammate nailed a 3-pointer to break a 115-115 tie with 40 seconds left and provide the separation the Knicks rode to victory.

DiVincenzo scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, making 8 of 10 shots.

But it was also a controversial moment. The Knicks retained that possession after Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith was called for a kicked ball when he deflected a Brunson pass in what looked like a steal and fast-break opportunity for the Pacers.

The ball hit Nesmith’s hand, but his foot was also outstretched and referees ruled he’d kicked the ball, triggering a violation. The Pacers had a challenge available, but such plays are not reviewable.

After the game, the referees admitted they had missed the call.

“On the floor we felt that would be a kicked ball violation. Postgame review did show that it hit the defender’s hand, which would be legal,” crew chief Zach Zarba said in a pool report.

Then, with 12.7 seconds left and the Pacers down a point with the ball, center Myles Turner was called for a moving screen on DiVincenzo as he tried to free point guard Tyrese Haliburton. It was a close play and the Pacers challenged the call, but it was upheld on review.

“We’re not expecting to get calls in here,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It would be nice if they laid off that one, but they didn’t. So that’s just the way it goes.”

Turner, who led with Pacers with 23 points in the loss, credited DiVincenzo for selling the foul. Like his coach, he also took the high road after the bitter defeat.

“Just in my experience in this league, I think it’s best when players decide the outcome of the game,” Turner said. “For the most part you can’t leave the game to be decided by the refs, so we have to take accountability as well.”

The Pacers lamented putting Brunson on the line 14 times — he made them all — and allowing DiVincenzo and Josh Hart, who had 24 points, to be such offensive factors. The Knicks shot 65% in the second half.

Hart played all 48 minutes for the third time this postseason, the most since Jimmy Butler did it five times in the 2013 playoffs.

Haliburton, who has been bothered by back spasms and was listed as questionable coming into the game, scored just six points and took only one shot inside the 3-point line. Brunson dominated that matchup of star point guards to a degree which was hard for the Pacers to overcome.

Brunson is averaging 12.4 points per game in the fourth quarter over the past five games. He made 6 of 10 shots and was 8-of-8 from the line down the stretch as he delivered time and again under pressure.

“You could go on and on every night, and the thing I love about him is he’s all about the team,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “All he cares about is winning, and he cares about his teammates, and I think when that happens, he’s, in the end, what do we need? Do we need a big bucket? Whatever it is we need, he’ll provide.”

Source link

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles