Brunson’s 3 at Buzzer Rims Out. Phoenix 116 NY 113

Devin Booker hit a contested 3 from the right baseline with 1.7 seconds left break a 110-110 tie, and Jalen Brunson‘s desperation 3 attempt out of a timeout from 35 feet rimmed in and out to give Phoenix the 116-113 victory on a Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

As losses go, it wasn’t a bad one.

In a very entertaining game, Phoenix held a double-digit lead for most of the first 3 quarters based on some unconscious 3-point shooting from 35-year-old veteran Eric Gordon who was hitting from the parking lot — 6 of 9 from 3 for 25 points. But the Knicks stormed back late in the 3rd quarter, with Jalen Brunson raining 3’s and Julius Randle powering his way to the rim like a lion.

The 4th quarter was a firefight.

A Randle power dunk off a beautiful Brunson drive and dish, and a CLUTCH Brunson jumper next time down tied the game at 110 with 21 seconds left. But Phoenix inbounded to Booker and he worked the clock down then hit the step back 3 from the right side with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett all over him.

“I think the way we came out really hurt us,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “They beat us to the ball; that’s usually a strength of ours. We got in a hole, used a lot of energy to come back, and couldn’t finish it at the end.”

NY drops to 9-7; Phoenix improves to 11-6. Phoenix was without Kevin Durant (although Eddie Johnson filled his shoes well).

1. Phoenix Coached by Vogel = Defensive & Rebounding

Phoenix is coached by Frank Vogel and they look it — they play a frenetic, tough defense with a lot of long bodies that get after it. They have NY a hard time on the boards throughout the first 3 quarters.

7-footer Jusuf Nurkic was giving Mitchell Robinson everything he could handle, with 6’8 Keita Bates-Diop by his side, and off the bench, 6’10 Chimezie Metu, 6’10 Drew Eubanks, and 6’4 guard Jordan Goodwin(7 rebounds) also gave Phoenix long bodies inside who scrambled for every loose ball.

The Knicks now lead the league in rebounding — but Phoenix presented them their biggest challenge of the season inside.

2. Phoenix Punched Knicks in Face at Start

And to start the game, Eric Gordon was ON FIRE from 3 — hitting shots from the parking lot, 10 feet beyond the 3-pt line. Gordon hit 3 straight 3’s out of the gate and Phoenix was up 13-6. Gordon then hit a deuce to put Phoenix up 15-6.

After a Knick timeout NY started guarding him better — but Phoenix’s rebounding for extra chances and their athletic bigs kept hurting the Knicks — Phoenix taking a 12-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter, 34-22.

NY tried to bite into that lead in the 2nd quarter but kept getting repelled as Yuta Watanabe came off the bench to hit a couple of 3’s, and Chimezie Metu hit a 3 and a deuce — putting Phoenix up by 15 midway thru the period, and by 13 with a minute left before the half.

The Knicks chipped away in the final minute on a Julius Randle drive and Mitchell Robinson dunk off a Randle feed to pull to within 8 at the half.

3. Knicks Take Lead Late in 3rd

The Knicks continued to bite into the Phoenix lead in the 3rd quarter, as Jalen Brunson started lighting it up from 3.

At the same time Julius Randle asserted himself down low with power move after power move — Phoenix had no one to contain him.

Phoenix fought back — Nassir Little hitting two 3’s — but a Julius Randle drive and 1 with 42 seconds left in the 3rd gave NY a 92-90 lead.

But Booker hit a step back and Jordan Goodwin hit a 3 and Phoenix took a 3-pt lead into the 4th.

4. Entertaining 4th Quarter

The teams traded blows throughout the 4th quarter — Phoenix taking a 6-pt lead but Immanuel Quickley giving the Knicks firepower at the start of the period, with Isiah Hartenstein playing big inside — getting buckets on putback dunks and free throws after fouls.

Then Brunson took over down the stretch for NY. A Brunson step-back 3 with 4:56 left tied the game at 107.

But Booker and Gordon hit back-to-back deuces to give Phoenix a 111-107 lead. Phoenix went to intentionally fouling Mitchell Robinson with 2:40 left. He missed both free throws.

With 2:14 left, Booker missed a drive and Phoenix intentionally fouled Mitchell Robinson who rebounded the ball — but the refs ruled Phoenix had impeded a fast break — thus giving the Knicks a technical free throw and the ball. Brunson missed the free throw but the Knicks replaced Robinson with Hartenstein. Quickley missed a 3 but NY played intense D and got buckets next two times down, starting with a Brunson drive and beautiful feed to Julius Randle for a dunk.

from Randle and then the big jumper by Brunson to tie it at 111 — setting the stage for the final plays — Booker hitting the 3, Brunson rimming out.


Brunson finished with 35 points, and Julius Randle had 28 pts. Quickley had 18 pts.

RJ Barrett played good D chasing Booker all night but only had 9 points on 3-11 shooting (3-4 in free throws).

The Boxscore

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