Brunson Barrage Down Stretch Carries Knicks to Win. NY 113 Washington 109

Jalen Brunson refused to let the Knicks lose, hitting big bucket after big bucket down the stretch to carry the Knicks to a 113-109 win over Washington on a Thursday night — Villanova Night — at Madison Square Garden.

It was supposed to be an easy win, against the 7-31 Wizards, but Washington played a tough defensive game, and were in it until the final seconds; the Knicks playing the second game of a back-to-back while the Wizards were well rested.

Brunson put on a spectacular performance — even playing through an ankle he apparently sprained at one point in the barrage. Washington tried every which way to stop him — putting different defenders on him to no avail. He scored 20 points in the 4th quarter, and 41 points in the game on 14-27 shooting.

Brunson was aided by Julius Randle (21 pts on 8-17 shooting) and OG Anunoby (19 pts on 6-9 shooting, 3-5 from 3) who also chipped in with big buckets down the stretch.

Donte DiVincenzo played frenetic all-around ball and added 19 points (and 5-12 from 3) before the Villanova Night crowd — around 1200 people were in the stands from Villanova. Josh Hart, the other Knicks’ core player from Villanova, was out injured.

Isaiah Hartenstein had his usual monster game inside — 17 rebounds (12 defensive, 5 offensive), a block, 2 steals, 3 assists, 6 pts on 3-5 shooting, and a +8.

Thibs’ Thoughts

“We didn’t play great obviously but we found a way to win which is the most important thing,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Our turnovers were costly, but just find a way to win the game, that’s the bottom line.”

Brunson’s magnificent performance almost seemed par for the course in the post-game interview, as reporters didn’t even ask Thibodeau about it at first, and when they did, Thibs didn’t wax poetic about it.

“Isaiah Rebounding,” said Thibs. “Julius with some big plays; clutch shots. Donte. OG was OG — he’s something…”

When finally asked about Brunson’s 20-pt 4th quarter, Thibs said; “I think the game tells him what to do. He made great reads. He got to the line. Then they changed the matchup and they went to the double team — and he got off the ball; didn’t fight it — and Julius made a big shot off the double team — it was just a good basketball play by both guys playing off each other.”

“We scored 40 (in the 4th quarter) but giving up 37 is not a good thing,” added Thibs about the Knicks’ 4th quarter defense.

NY improves to 24-17; Washington falls to 7-32.

1. Knicks Jump Out to Early 10-Pt Lead

It looked from the start like it was going to be easy. Julius Randle was cooking early, hitting a deuce and then consecutive 3’s for 8 straight points.

DiVincenzo hit a floater and Brunson hit a floater and just like that NY was up 20-10 with 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter.

2. Knicks’ 2nd Team Doesn’t Offer Much

But then NY got sloppy — trying to thread the needled on passes and turning the ball over. And they missed 3’s. The Knick 2nd team didn’t do much.

Evan Fournier played 6 minutes and was 0-4 for 0 points. Quentin Grimes shot 0-5 — all from 3 — for 0 points in 19 minutes. He had a -12.

It was reported before the game by Stef Bondy of the NY Post that Grimes was dissatisfied with his role on the Knicks and they were actively trying to trade him.

3. Washington Hangs Tough

Marvin Bagley III, in his first game as a Wizard after being traded to them from Portland — got off to a slow start but then started to get in rhythm and caused havoc inside for the Knicks all night — twice blocking Julius Randle at the rim.

Bagley had a tremendous first game as a Wizard: 20 pts on 10-16 shooting with 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and a +2.

Kyle Kuzma got going for Washington, and they pulled into a 22-22 tie by end of the 1st quarter.

Jordan Poole had one of his best games of the year — he was hitting his shot for24 pts on 7-19 shooting. Tyrus Jones the Wizard point guard had 2 points but 16 assists. Kuzma had 15 points on 7-15 shooting, Deni Avdija scored 15 pts, Corey Kispert came off the bench for 10 points, and Landry Shamet came off the bench for 13 points.

Washington, coached by Wes Unseld Jr, has a lot of talent — but like the Knicks before Thibdeau, don’t know how to win yet.

4. Knicks By 1 at the Half

The Knicks tried to pull away in the 2nd quarter but Washington came right back and took the lead by as many as 5 points — 41-36 after a Kyle Kuzma drive.

The Knicks fought back — a DiVincenzo 3 and Brunson drive gave the Knicks a 1-pt lead at the half, 46-45.

Both teams shot miserably from 3 early in the game — both teams were something like 1-10 early, but both starting hitting their 3 in the 2nd half. Overall, Washington was 10-31 for for 32%; the Knicks finished 13-38, for 34%.

5. Knicks by 2 at the End of 3

The Knicks took control out of the halftime break by taking a 7-pt lead early in the 3rd.

But Marvin Bagley III hit a shot inside and Deni Avdija scored a drive-and-1 and the Wizards were 2 points behind.

And it continued like that — the Knicks attempting to take control of the game but Washington hanging tough.

6. Brunson Lights Up the 4th

Donte DiVincenzo made back-to-back 3’s to start the 4th and it looked like the Knicks were finally on their way, leading 79-72.

But Washington came right back — a Kispert 3 pulled the Wizards back within 4.

DiVincenzo then came out of nowhere to block a shot which led to the play of the game — a fast break and drive-and-1 by Brunson in the other direction.

And that’s when Jalen Brunson started to take over:

  • Landry Shamet hit a deuce and then consecutive 3’s and the Wizards were back within 1, 84-83.
  • Brunson came back with a floater, NY 86-83.
  • Poole hit a layup.
  • Brunson hit a drive, NY 88-85.
  • Brunson hit a pullup, NY 90-85.
  • Bagley III hit a drive.
  • Brunson was fouled on a drive and made both free throws. NY 92-87.
  • Poole hit a drive.
  • Brunson answered with a drive-and-1. NY 95-89.
  • Poole made free throws after being fouled on a drive,
  • Randle answered with a tough deuce inside. NY 97-91.
  • Avdija scored inside to make it 97-93,
  • Brunson answered — getting fouled taking a 3 — making all 3 free throws as his mom watched in the stands, using her two pointer fingers to rub her temple. NY 100-93. 2:47 left.
  • Bagley III hit a deuce.
  • Brunson answered with a 3. NY 102-95.

Jalen Brunson puts his defender at his mercy,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Whether he’s breaking his defender off the bounce and finishing in lane,keeping defenders on his hip to hit floater or using jump stops, shot fakes and pivot foot to finish or create contact. Also,give him space and he hits his jumper.”

Wizards STILL Wouldn’t Go Away

  • DiVincenzo missed a layup on the break but Randle tipped it in and NY seemed to have the game at 104-95 with 1:51 left.

But Washington STILL wouldn’t go away.

  • Bagley III hit a deuce inside.
  • Brunson answered with 1-2 in free throws off a drive.
  • Avdija hit a drive.
  • Randle hit a 3 and NY seemed to have it again, at 108-99 with 58 seconds left.

But Washington STILL wouldn’t go away.

  • Poole got fouled by DiVincenzo taking a 3 and hit all 3 free throws, then
  • Poole stole the ball from Randle — although it looked like he fouled Randle the refs said the steal was clean and Randle fouled Poole. Poole hit 2 free throws and it was a 108-104 game.

Knicks Hit Clutch Free Throws in Last Minute

Finally down the stretch, Randle made 1 of 2 free throws, and then both OG Anunoby and Donte DiVincenzo hit clutch free throws to ice the win — DiVincenzo hitting nothing but net on his free throws with 3 seconds left to ice it.


The Boxscore

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