Brunson’s 38 & Knick D Stomp On Barrett-Quickley Homecoming. NY 126 Toronto 100

RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley returned to Madison Square Garden to a massive ovation from Knick fans, and both played inspired basketball to make it a close game at the half.

But in the 3rd quarter Jalen Brunson took charge on offense and the Knick D took care of the rest as the Knicks blew Toronto off the court. Final score: NY 126 Toronto 100 on a Saturday night at MSG.

The Knicks DESTROYED Toronto on the boards, outrebounding them 61 to 31, despite Isaiah Hartenstein getting two quick fouls and then spraining his ankle early in the game and only playing 23 minutes with 4 rebounds. Julius Randle took up the slack with a triple double of 16 rebounds, 18 pts, and 10 assists.

It was a reunion too for OG Anunoby, playing against his former team (although at MSG, not Toronto). OG played great as usual (14 pts, 7 rebounds and Defense). And Precious Achiuwa had his best game as a Knick with 18 points (on 9-10 shooting) and 11 rebounds.

“We started slow and then our bench came in and gave us a really big lift,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “That got the energy into the game. Jalen was terrific. Julius was Julius. But you don’t want to overlook what OG and Josh brought to the game. They made so many tough plays for us. And that got us going. They spread you out pretty good, and that requires a 2nd and 3rd effort. Donte gave us really good minutes and Precious was terrific. Quentin’s defense was really good. We needed everyone. Deuce had a really good stretch for us in the 1st half — that gave us a spark.”

NY improves to 26-17. Toronto falls to 16-27.

1. Toronto Jumps Out to 11 Pt Lead

The game started out with much anticipation of the Barrett and Quickley return and both players received massive applause by the packed MSG crowd when they were introduced. Both players came out with inspired basketball — Barrett driving to the basket as is his strong point — and Toronto jumped out to an 11-pt lead at 27-16 with 4 minutes left in the 1st on a Scottie Barnes drive and 1.

2. Knicks Come Ripping Back

But the Knicks came right back — Jalen Brunson with a drive and then a 3 to immediately slice the lead to 6, then buckets by Achiuwa and Hart and a 3 by Randle to tie the game 31-31 at end of the 1st quarter.

The Knicks’ 2nd team played well at start of the 2nd quarter with Quentin Grimes playing very aggressive basketball and getting to the rim, and Precious Achiuwa being a menace inside. NY took a 39-32 lead on a Grimes drive off an Achiuwa assist and NY had just turned an 11-pt deficit into a 7-pt lead — an 18-pt turnaround.

Donte DiVincenzo played his usual brand of frenetic heads-up basketball — at one point coming flying in out of nowhere to grab an offensive rebound off a Brunson shot and laying it back in to give NY a 50-45 lead.

“You can make yourself a threat when the ball isn’t in your hands,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Donte DiVincenzo creates his own opportunities with his action off the ball that leads to an open jumper then his defender overplays him and he gets a backdoor layup then grabs an offensive rebound and finishes.”

But Toronto fought back — Gradey Dick kept making 3’s from the corner and RJ Barrett kept breaking loose for drives to the basket.

An RJ Barrett drive off a Quickley assist 2 seconds before the end of the half pulled Toronto to within 59-57.

3. Brunson & Knick D Takes Charge in the 3rd

Jalen Brunson took over the game at start of the 3rd to put NY in command.

Donte DiVincenzo hit a drive off a Brunson pass, then Brunson hit a 3 and NY was up 5.

DiVincenzo and Randle made buckets, countered by RJ Barrett buckets — like an old western shootout.

But then Brunson pulled out his big guns — making free throws off a drive, hitting a pullup, and then a 3 for 7 consecutive points and NY was up by 14.

Quickley hit a 3 but DiVincenzo immediately countered with a 3 and OG Anunoby slammed one home off a pass from Randle and NY was up 17.

NY would go up by 20 on a Miles McBride 3 with 1:38 left in the 3rd.

But NY left Gradey Dick open for consecutive 3’s late in the quarter and NY entered the 4th only up 14, much to the chagrin of Tom Thibodeau staring at the team on the sidelines.

4. Knicks 2nd Team Gets It Done in 4th

The Knick lead would shrink to 12 points early in the 4th before the Knicks retook momentum. Brunson fed OG Anunoby for a slam ahead of the field and 1 — and NY was up 15 again.

Precious Achiuwa slammed off a QGrimes assist and Josh Hart hit a 3 and NY was back up 18.

Hartenstein’s injury allowed Precious Achiuwa to play more minutes than usual and he showed out. Achiuwa tipped in a Brunson miss, then slammed off a Brunson feed and NY was up 22.

A QGrimes dunk put NY up 24 with 7 minutes left and the rout was on.

5. Knicks OWNED the Boards; Shut Down Barnes

The Knicks Owned the boards all night and also did a JOB on Scottie Barnes — who had a miserable 2nd half. Barnes scored only 9 points on 4-14 shooting (0-3 from 3) and had 3 turnovers.

NY clamped down their D on Barrett in the 2nd half — he finished with 20 points on 8-15 shooting (1-3 from 3) with 8 rebounds. But Barrett had 19 points with 8 minutes left in the 3rd and only scored 1 point after that.

Quickley finished with 12 points (on 4-8 shooting; 2-4 from 3) and 11 assists.

Gary Trent Jr hurt the Knicks with 16 points on 6-10 shooting.

Josh Hart had a solid game for the Knicks with 10 points (3-5 shooting; 2-3 from 3), 9 rebounds and a +20 in 26 minutes — tremendous Defense.


With Mitchell Robinson out and now Hartenstein with a sprained ankle, Jericho Sims got action in the 4th quarter.

“I feel really good about our center position because Jericho — he’s ready,” said Thibodeau. “When his opportunity comes I know he’ll do well. He’s active; a great rebounder. He brings a lot to our team as well.”

The Boxscore


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