Brunson’s 61 Pts Not Enough to Beat NBA Refs & Wemby. San Antonio 130 NY 126 in OT

The Knicks fell into a 21-point hole in the 2nd quarter, then dug out of it as Jalen Brunson valiantly put the team on his back in the 2nd half — en route to 61 points — 59 of them in regulation — but the victory ultimately slipped through the Knicks fingers.

Brunson missed a 3 with 5 seconds left that would have put NY ahead, the rebound grabbed by Precious Achiuwa, who flipped the ball to Donte DiVincenzo in the corner but the ball went out of bounds.

Victor Wembanyama‘s 40 points and 21 rebounds gave San Antonio the edge in the 130-126 overtime win in San Antonio on a Friday night.

The Refs

NY and Brunson also could not overcome the refs. NY only got 12 free throws all game — and went 10-12 from the free throw line — Brunson not drawing fouls on his many drives to the basket where he was hit. San Antonio was 26-32 from the line. In the meantime Spurs coach Greg Popovich went ballistic on the sidelines many times but never drew a tech.

The Knicks had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Miles McBride‘s 3 bounced off the rim with 1 second left. NY missed numerous opportunities to take a commanding lead in the 4th quarter, the ball rolling in and out of the rim on inside attempts by Mitchell Robinson amongst others.

It was an amazing game from a basketball perspective, but not if you’re a Knick fan due to the final score.

Thibs’ Thoughts

“It’s a tough way to lose a game,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “It’s a tough way to lose. We started off the game got into a big hole, came back, got into a big hole again, came back again. Fought all the way to the end — we had 2 chances to win it. We fell short. I thought our defense in the 2nd half was better. Big free throw disparity. I don’t know.”

“A foul’s a foul; that’s what I do know,” added Thibs. “What I’m hearing I don’t like. I don’t know what else you can do; what else you can say. It’s clear as day. It really is that simple.”

NY falls to 44-29, and fall out of 3rd into 4th place a half game behind Cleveland, who won. San Antonio improves to 18-56 — getting their 3rd win in a row, having beaten Phoenix and Utah the previous 2 games.

1. Spurs Jump out to 21 Point Lead in 2nd Quarter

The Knicks did not have the intensity they normally have in the 1st half, and the Spurs got off to a huge lead as they kept hitting 3’s.

Victor Wembanyama made the Knicks look over their shoulder on drives inside and their outside shots weren’t falling.

Meanwhile Wemby was scoring in a variety of ways. 6’5 shooting guard Devin Vassell hurt the Knicks all night on drives to the hoop for 23 points. Julian Champaign scored 12 points, and 6’6 Keldon Johnson hurt the Knicks off the Spurs bench with 17 points.

Donte DiVincenzo broke the Knicks’ record for most 3’s in a season but NY was still down 74-57 at the half.

2. Brunson’s 24 Points in 3rd Pull NY Within 94-91

But NY came out in the 3rd quarter like the junkyard dogs Knick fans have become accustomed to.

The Knick Defense ratcheted up, and Jalen Brunson was a man on fire — with his shot on fire, and fire in his eyes — determined to bring the Knicks back.

Brunson relentlessly drove to the bucket for hoops or floaters, and hit 3’s. Miles McBride, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Josh Hart added buckets — and by the end of the quarter, NY pulled to within 89-88.

Hartenstein was doing a JOB on Wembanyama — keeping him out of the paint, and hounding him from taking clear 3’s, while Knick guards were coming over to disrupt his dribble.

Several times at the end of the 3rd quarter the Knicks had opportunity to take the lead but the ball rolled in and out of the rim — the Knicks missed 3 straight 3’s (DiVincenzo, Hart, DiVincenzo), a McBride drive rolled out, and a Josh Hart put back rolled in and out — the score remaining 89-88 San Antonio.

Vassell drove for a dunk and the Spurs were up 91-88. Wemby hit a 3 but Brunson came right back with a 3 and San Antonio was up 94-91 entering the 4th. The Knicks were right there — poised to take the game.

3. Game Slipped thru Knick Fingers in 4th Quarter

But again at the start of the 4th, Knick shots just didn’t fall.

Robinson missed a point blank put back, and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed shots and San Antonio rolled back to a 12-pt lead with 9:32 left after 3’s by Wemby and Tre Jones.

Thibs Time out.

Out of the timeout the Knicks charged again — Brunson started it with a 3.

DiVIncenzo then hit a 3, and DiVincenzo came up with a steal and fed Hart for a drive to pull NY within 7.

A Brunson 3, and then a McBride steal and dunk with 6:43 left pulled NY to within 107-106.

Vassell and Brunson exchanged scores, Hartenstein hit a free throw after being flagrantly fouled, and DiVincenzo hit a 3 with 4:30 left to finally give NY a lead, 113-112.

It was a firefight the last 4 minutes — Wemby doing all the scoring for San Antonio with a bucket by Vassell; Brunson doing the scoring for NY, with free throws Hart.

NY was up 121-119 with under 30 seconds left — the spurs got it to Wemby who was fouled by Hartenstein with 24 seconds left. Wemby hit both free throws to tie the game at 121 as Hartenstein fouled out — Robinson replacing him.

With 24 seconds left the Knicks let the clock run down before McBride took a 3 with 1.1 seconds left for the ballgame — but missed.

4. Wemby Wins OT

The Spurs jumped on top in OT on a Tre Jones jumper, and then a Wemby tip shot.

NY came back on offensive rebounds inside and putbacks by Mitchell Robinson.

Odd Ref Call on Jump Ball

With NY down 128-126 and 34 seconds left, Knick defense forced a jump ball. Robinson won the tip for NY but was incredibly called for a jump ball violation that could not be seen on the replay. But ball don’t lie — Vassell missed a jumper and the Knicks had the ball, down 128-126 with 24 seconds left.

The Final Play

Vassell fouled Brunson with 12 seconds left — NY re-inbounding the ball.

Brunson came down and took a 3 for the win with 5 seconds left — but missed — the ball grabbed by Precious Achiuwa who flipped to DiVincenzo in the corner but out of bounds.

The Boxscore

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