Brunson Emerges from Locker Room — Leads Knicks to ANOTHER BARNBURNER Win. NY 130 Indiana 121

Jalen Brunson went out of the game late in the 1st quarter and was gone to the locker room — and nobody knew why. An injury on the court of some sort — no one knew what it was or how severe. Reports came across the Twitter wire that Leon Rose left the court to go there; Jalen’s father, assistant coach Rick Brunson — left the court to go there.

As the minutes ticked away throughout the 2nd quarter — all of NY waited for news; searching Twitter for any sort of information. Replays showed him possibly injuring his ankle, or leg, or getting hit in the balls on a play just before he left. There was a report by some doctor that he had broken his foot. Another that he had broken his hand.

Indiana meanwhile, took advantage of Brunson’s absence, turning a 7-point deficit when he left into a 10-point lead at the half.

But as the 2nd half was about to begin — Brunson emerged from the locker room to a Roaring cheer from a relieved Madison Square Garden, and proceeded to score 21 points in the 2nd half to lead NY to another BARNBURNER win in the closing minutes!

Meanwhile, OG Anunoby — who was dominating with his play — went out with an injured hamstring in the 3rd quarter, never to return — and now all of NY waits with baited breath and searches Twitter for latest news on his injury.

“I think we started the game well,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “The end of the 1st didn’t go as well as we would like. The 2nd quarte was a problem, but I love the way we responded in the 3rd, and the way we finished it out in the 4th.”

NY takes a 2-0 game lead in the best of 7 series that heads back to Indiana.

1. NY Jumps out to 24-13 Lead; Brunson Exits

NY “punched Indiana on the nose” to start the game — coming out aggressively and executing on their passing game. Brunson was attacking and scoring, or hitting a 3, or feeding Josh Hart for a drive. Hartenstein fed Anunoby for a drive, then grabbed an offensive rebound and put one home himself. Anunoby hit a 3. Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3 and NY was up 24-13.

Hartenstein wass a rock for NY all game — on the offensive and defensive side.

Isaiah Hartenstein knows his role and if he seems to be in the right position at the right time it’s no accident,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “It starts with his effort, work on both backboards, sets screens, finds the open man, outworks you and defends. Plays to his strengths, always engaged and just competes.”

2. Brunson Exits; Indiana Comes Back

But Obi Toppin hit a 3 to slice the lead and with 3:32 left, Brunson got injured on a play and left the game.

T.J. McConnell started to attack, and Aaron Nesmith and Tyrese Haliburton started hitting 3’s and Indiana roared back. Obi Toppin continued to be a pain in the ass — hitting a drive and then 3 free throws after being fouled taking a 3 by Miles McBride with .1 second left in the quarter. He made all 3 free throws to tie the game 36-36 heading into the 2nd.

3. Indiana Takes Over in 2nd Quarter; 10-Pt Lead at the Half

With all of NY wondering where Jalen Brunson was, Miles McBride led the Knicks — but T.J. McConnell continued to be a pain in the ass — attacking the rim for pullups or drives, or feeding Pacers like Obi Toppin for a 3, or Pascal Siakam for a drive.

The Knicks fought back — OG Anunoby put the Knicks on his back on offense — scoring on drives and 3’s — and Josh Hart was everywhere doing Josh Hart things — but Indiana gradually pulled out to a 10-pt lead on a 3 by Tyrese Haliburton with 3 minutes left in the quarter.

Halliburton was much more aggressive in this game after only scoring 6 points in the 1st game. In this one he had 34 pts on 11-19 shooting (7-11 from 3).

A Donte DiVincenzo 3 pulled NY to within 6, but Andrew Nembhard hit a deuce and a 3 in the last minute, sandwiching a Precious Achiuwa drive — and Indiana took a 10-pt lead into the locker room.

4. Brunson Returns; NY Pulverizes Pacers in 3rd; Take 8-Pt Lead

And then Jalen Brunson came out of the locker room to take warmups to start the 3rd. Madison Square Garden erupted in relief.

A Nembhard drive put Indiana up 12, but the Knicks stormed back.

Donte DiVIncenzo hit back-to-back 3’s, Josh Hart hit a drive, Brunson made free throws, and Hart made another drive off a Hartenstein assist and NY tied the game 79-all.

“Shooting the ball is a tremendous skillset and so are understanding how to utilize screens and move without the ball which Donte DiVincenzo does,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Put your defender at your mercy.”

Anunoby hit a 3 from the corner and NY was up 3.

Donte DiVincenzo came out of nowhere to score in traffic on a backdoor play, assist Josh Hart — and NY was up 84-79 with 6:41 left as MSG ERUPTED! Indiana timeout.

Anunoby blocked a Nesmith drive, then scored down the other end and NY was up 88-81.

Then with 3:27 left — horrors — Anunoby pulled his hamstring defending a full court drive by Indiana, falling out of bounds as Brunson fouled Tyrese Haliburton.

Brunson took over during the final minutes of the 3rd, with a 3 and a drive off a Hartenstein assist — and NY had an 8-pt lead heading into the 4th.

5. Indiana Pulls With 1 Point in 4th

But TJ McConnell — who Josh Hart complimentary called a “pain in the ass” before the playoffs — continued to be a pain in the ass.

He scored on a drive and a jumper early in the 4th to pull Indiana back.

Brunson answered with a jumper and 1.

McConnell was playing a Very physical defense on Jalen Brunson — banging Brunson on drives — and the two engaged in trash talking.

When McConnell hit a jumper in the lane with 8:03 left, Indiana was down 102-101. Knicks timeout.


The two teams went back and forth for the next few minutes — Madison Square Garden erupting on each Knick score:

  • Hart a 3,
  • Siakam a jumper,
  • Brunson a drive,
  • Myles Turner a drive off a Halliburton pretty-pass assist,
  • Brunson a 3 to make it 110-105 NY,

  • Nembhard a 3,
  • Hartenstein a dunk off a Hart assist,
  • Haliburton a drive to make it 112-110 NY.

6. The Final Frenetic Minutes

Donte DiVincenzo hit ANOTHER Huge 3 with 4:20 left and NY had a 5-pt lead.

NY ratcheted up their defense.

With 3:40 left, DiVincenzo came out of nowhere to grab an offensive rebound, and feed Precious Achiuwa for a dunk — NY 117 Indiana 110. Pacers timeout.

Gushed NBA Analyst Ross Kreines: “Former Jay Wright players understand the use of fundamentals, they defend, find the open man, compete but what Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte also bring are skills you can’t teach in toughness, fearlessness and the willingness to always do more and never relent or quit.”

Out of the timeout Halliburton hit a 3 — Indiana would just not go away and Knick fans just could not get a game where it wasn’t a frenetic finish.

Hartenstein answered, powering inside and getting fouled — and hitting both free throws.

The Knicks defended, DiVincenzo grabbed the rebound off a Turner 3-pt miss, fed Brunson and Brunson went to work with another mid-range jumper. NY 121 Indiana 113.

Halliburton hit free throws but DiVincenzo hit ANOTHER HUGE 3 and NY was up 124-115 with 1:33 left.

Indiana STILL would not go away — Hartenstein BLOCKED a Halliburton drive, but Indiana got the rebound and Nesmith hit a serendipity 3 from the corner to pull Indiana within 6 with 1:23 left.

Hartenstein Goofy Dribble & the Inadvertent Whistle

Indiana pressured the inbound — Hartenstein got the ball and dribbled over the midcourt line — and the refs called an inadvertent whistle. It seemed like they called him for traveling with the ball for a turnover — but they convened and said no, it was no call. This enlivened Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, who would soon pick up a tech. But not yet.

Brunson Ices It

Brunson went to work — he missed a floater but Precious Achiuwa grabbed the offensive rebound — fed Divo — who missed a 3 but NY grabbed the offensive rebound again, and Brunson drove for a floater with 40 seconds left to give NY a 127-118 lead and ice it.


Pacers coach Rick Carlisle went ballistic at this point, at the call on Hartenstein and his perceived lack of calls throughout, got two Techs and was ejected; Brunson made both free throws and the game was essentially over.

The Boxscore


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