Brunson & Mitchell Robinson Clutch Down Stretch. NY 111 Brooklyn 107

Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson were Mr. Clutch A and Mr. Clutch B down the stretch as the Knicks warded off the feisty Nets at Madison Square Garden on a Friday night, 111-107.

It was a huge win for NY — as they maintain 3rd place in the East with a game to go.

Brunson scored the last 8 Knick points, including 4 clutch free throws in the final 11 seconds, and before that, Mitchell Robinson hit 5 of 8 free throws including his last 3 in a row after being intentionally fouled 4 times between the 4- and 2-minutes-left mark.

The Knicks had spotted the Nets the first 11 points of the game, and a 17-point lead late in the 1st quarter. But the Knicks came on strong late in the 2nd quarter, and took over in the 3rd, outscoring the Nets 30-13 to take an 84-76 lead into the 4th. The Nets wouldn’t go away though, climbing back into the game on the red-hot scoring of Cam Thomas, who had 41 points on 15-26 shooting.

Jalen Brunson was a tour-de-force for NY in the 2nd half, scoring 30 points (22 in the 2nd half) with 11 assists.

Isaiah Hartenstein was out resting, so Jericho Sims started at center. Mitchell Robinson had a big game off the bench — Mitch came up HUGE in the 4th quarter on the boards, on defense, and at the free throw line.

“We started the game obviously slowly; 2nd quarter offensively we figured it out; we got good shots,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Start of the 3rd quarter our defense got going. And then just found a way to win in the end.”

NY is now 49-32; if they win their last game against Chicago at MSG, they guarantee themselves 3rd place and could move into 2nd in the East if Milwaukee loses to Orlando.

NY owns the tiebreaker with 4th place Cleveland, but if NY loses to Chicago, they could possibly fall to 4th if Milwaukee loses and Cleveland wins (Cleveland would win the division title as they own the tie-breaker with Milwaukee, and Milwaukee would go to 3rd since they own the tiebreaker over NY). The Nets dropped to 32-49.

1. Brooklyn Jumps Out to 11-0 Lead

If you looked down at your phone at the start of the game before turning it on TV, and saw Brooklyn 11 NY 0 you might have thought it was some sort of glitch on — but it wasn’t. Brooklyn scored the first 11 points of the game and raced out to a 21-5 lead.

Trendon Watford was hitting J’s and 3’s, Jalen Wilson was hitting 3’s, Lonnie Walker was J’s, Nic Claxton was scoring inside, and then Cam Thomas started to heat up, scoring 3 straight drives late in the quarter.

NY — coming off the blowout of the Celtics in Boston — kept missing 3’s. Brunson kept missing every shot he took — in fact he didn’t score in the 1st quarter.

2. Brunson & Knicks Go on Tear Near End of 2nd Quarter

NY started to wake up early in the 2nd quarter — a Mitchell Robinson score inside, Bojan Bogdanovic drive, a Precious Achiuwa drive, a Bogey 3, a Robinson tip-in, a Precious 3, Alec Burks free throws, and a Bogey 3 — but still NY was down 15 with 4:23 left when Jalen Brunson — scoreless to that point in the game on 0-6 shooting — finally broke through.

Brunson scored on consecutive drives, was fouled on a drive and hit both free throws, then hit a 3 and NY was down 10 — Brunson with 9 straight points for NY.

“Doesn’t matter if Jalen Brunson’s shot didn’t fall early because he stays confident, stays in attack mode, creates for others, runs the offense, takes charges and stays engaged which kept himself in position to get going,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Big reason why Jalen is who he is; leads and wins at all levels.”

Crazy Finish to the 1st Half

The half ended with a CRAZY finish — Josh Hart stole the ball from Nic Claxton with 8 seconds left, but his pass was intercepted and stolen by Lonnie Walker IV who made a layup with 3 seconds left to put Brooklyn up 12. Donte DiVincenzo inbouned to Josh Hart who ran the floor and banked in a 3 as the buzzer sounded to put NY down 63-54 at the half.

3. NY Dominates 3rd with Anunoby-Led DEFENSE

The Knick DEFENSE stepped up in the 3rd quarter, led by the QUICK hands of OG Anunoby, who had several steals. OG’s hands are so quick you don’t even see the steal until the instant replay.

A Josh Hart steal early in the 3rd led to an Anunoby dunk for a 63-58 game.

A minute later, an Anunoby steal led to another Anunoby Dunk and just like that it was a tie game, 63 all.

Anunoby was on FIRE. He hit 3 (three) 3’s from the corner, and a deuce. NY was up 80-72.

Brunson and DiVincenzo added to the scoring; NY went up by 84-75 to end the 3rd.

4. Pesky Nets Won’t Go Away in 4th

At the start of the 4th, Mitchell Robinson was HUGE with a tip-in and a dunk, defense and rebounding. DiVincenzo made clutch buckets too and NY maintained its 10-point lead early.

“Mitch makes plays that no one else can, in terms of impacting shots; pick-and-roll coverage,” added Thibs. “I thought he was terrific, Thomas had a big night against us, but Mitch can cover a lot of ground and that was huge for us. Each game is a little better; he was out for a long time; he’s starting to move a lot better.”

But the Nets kept chipping away. Cam Thomas kept scoring, and Jalen Wilson, Trendon Watford, and Nic Claxton kept making tough shots.

5. Mitch Mr. Clutch B — Free Throw Maker

The Nets pulled to within 98-96 off a Jalen Wilson drive with 4:06 left and then started fouling Mitchell Robinson on purpose.

  • Robinson missed the first free throw, but made the 2nd. NY 99 Brooklyn 96 with 3:38 left.
  • Watford scored to pull Brooklyn within 99-98. Next time down same thing — Robinson fouled on purpose.
  • Robinson hit the 1st free throw; missed the 2nd. NY 100 Brooklyn 98 with 2:41 left.
  • Josh Hart stole the ball from Cam Thomas — Robinson was fouled again with 2:21 left.
  • Robinson missed the 1st free throw; hit the 2nd. NY 101 Brooklyn 98.
  • Cam Thomas hit a drive pulling Brooklyn within 101-100 with 2:03 left.
  • Same thing — Robinson to the line. He stepped up and hit both free throws as MSG roared.

The NBA does not allow purposeful fouls in the last 2 minutes so the Knicks were through the danger zone. Jericho Sims, waiting on the sideline to get in, sat down as Mitch finished the game.

“It felt great,” said Mitchell Robinson after the game. “Me missing all those games and stuff like that, I’ve really been focusing on my free throws. And it paid off tonite.”

6. Brunson Mr. Clutch A Down Stretch

Then it was Jalen Brunson’s turn to be Mr Clutch.

  • Brunson hit a Clutch floater with 1:22 left (after a Cam Thomas miss) to put NY up 105-100, then
  • Brunson countered a Cam Thomas step-back jumper with a step-back jumper of his own for a 107-102 Knick lead with 28 seconds left.

Brunson Makes All 4 Clutch Free Throws in Closing 11 Seconds

After Thomas made 3 free throws off a foul by DiVincenzo — Brunson was sent to the line twice in the last 11 seconds for free throws — and made all 4 CLUTCH free throws for the old ballgame.

The Boxscore


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