Defense & Brunson’s 45 Pts Win the Night. NY 105 Portland 93

The Knicks did what they were supposed to do — beat the 19-46 Portland Trailblazers by double digits — on a Thursday night in Portland, 105-93.

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t a blowout, but the Knicks got the job done.

The Knicks couldn’t seem to hit a 3 ball all night — shooting 6-29 from 3 for 20%, and Portland played a scrappy defense and did hit the 3 ball at a 33% clip — keeping them in it.

But Jalen Brunson (2-10 from 3) scored 45 points in traditional ways: driving to the bucket for scores and free throws — he was 14-30 overall and 15-17 from the free throw line — to lead the Knicks to the win.

Josh Hart was everywhere — making key defensive plays and interceptions, and grabbing seemingly every rebound. And OG Anunoby came up with key defensive plays and scores as well, as the Knick Defense clamped down on Portland — besides allowing the occasional 3 and buckets inside by Deandre Ayton in the 2nd half.

On Brunson, coach Tom Thibdoeau said “It’s unbelievable just to watch it, He ended up with 17 free throws and I thought there could be a lot more. He’s just clever, he’s shifty, and he does everything. He doesn’t stop moving. He creates a lot of good offense for us.”

“When you couple that with Josh Hart‘s rebounding,” continued Thibs. “We had a lot of guys step up. OG gave us really good minutes; great defense; hustle plays. So it was a good solid win.”

NY improves to 39-27; Portland drops to 19-47.

1. Knicks Jump Out to Lead But Portland Hits Back

Jalen Brunson and the Knicks came out of the gate to take a 14-8 lead and it looked like NY was immediately on its way to an easy win as expected.

  • Brunson hit a step-back 2 and then a 3 on his first 2 shots;
  • Brunson hit a drive-and-1 to give NY a 9-8 lead;
  • Donte DiVincenzo hit a floater to make it 11-8 NY; and
  • Brunson hit a drive-and-1 to give NY a 14-8 lead.

But Portland is coached by Chauncey Billups and despite the record, he has his team playing disruptive Defense. Portland amped up their D and starting 3’s and went on a 13-3 run to take the lead, 23-18 — with Ayton scoring inside, and Ashton Hagans and Matisse Thybulle hitting consecutive 3’s.

NY pulled back into the lead by the end of the 1st quarter on buckets by Miles McBride and Bogan Bogdanovic, and a tip-in by Alec Burks but early in the 2nd, Portland re-took the lead again.

2. Burks Comes & Goes; Knicks Take Command in 2nd

Burks hit a 3 to start the 2nd quarter for NY but then missed a 3, turned the ball over on the next possession, then missed a J as Portland regained the lead 31-29 and Knicks Twitter was howling.

Burks was pulled for Brunson with 8:47 left in the quarter and would not return — ending the night with 4 minutes — which is one minute less than the 5 minutes he played the previous game.

Knicks Take Command

Anunoby hit a 3 and Deuce McBride picked up a steal and a bucket and NY was back in command. NY went on a 23-11 run to end the half — with Brunson and McBride doing the heavy lifting on scoring, and Josh Hart finishing the period with a drive-and-1 for a 55-41 lead.

3. Anunoby Gives Everyone a Scare

With 3:35 left in the 2nd quarter, OG Anunoby picked up a steal inside but was hit on his elbow that he was just returning from surgery to remove the bone spur. Anunoby was visibly in pain on the court, looking at his elbow — although Mike Breen on the broadcast missed it.

As the 2nd half was about to begin — courtside reports said Anunoby came out to shoot around then went back to the bench to have his elbow looked at by the trainer — as all of Knicks Twitter held its collective breath and feared the worst.

But then Anunoby took the court and played great — although he occasionally grunted in pain on the court when his elbow got hit in traffic.

4. Portland Makes Another Run Early in 3rd

Portland would just not go away, and a bucket and a 3 by Kris Murray early in the 3rd had Portland to within 9 again.

5. NY Gets Back to Business — Takes 22-Pt Lead in 3rd

But the Knicks clamped the D down again and started to pull away, led mainly on the offensive end by Brunson.

Brunson was wheeling and dealing, and dancing and prancing all night against a physical defense. He gave Scoot Henderson a lesson in footwork, and did the same to defensive specialists Toumani Camara and Matisse Thybulle when they were put on him.

Jalen Brunson is always in attack mode, keeps his dribble alive, gets to where he wants to go not where his defender wants him to go and has the ability to create contact and then finish through contact,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Put your defender at your mercy.”

NY couldn’t hit a 3 but were scoring on drives and pulled out to a 22-point lead by end of the quarter, at 85-63.

6. Portland & Ayton Would Not Go Away — Pull Back to Within 11

But Portland still would not go away. An Ashton Hagans 3 late in the 3rd and then a Scoot Henderson drive and a 3 pulled Portland back to within 85-72.

Then Deandre Ayton started to get going — with offensive rebounds and buckets inside — and Portland pulled within 10.

NY went on a mini run highlighted by a Brunson 3 to take an 18 point lead with 6 minutes left.

But still Portland would not go away — Ayton was a constant pain on the glass — and hit a 3 and a jumper too. An Ayton J pulled Portland to within 11 with 3:53 left. NY timeout.

Play of the Game

Out of the timeout, Scoot Henderson stole the ball from Brunson and fed Camara in the front court — but Josh Hart intercepted and threw ahead the other way to DiVincenzo who fed Brunson for a layup — NY up 13 with 3:25 left. Phew. That pretty much finished it.

Precious Achiuwa put the final nail in by grabbing an offensive rebound (off a Hart miss) and scoring inside for a 14-point lead with a minute left for the ballgame.

The Boxscore

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