Jalen Brunson BLAZES Suns for 50 Points, 9 Assists. NY 139 Phoenix 122

Jalen Brunson had one of the best shooting performances in history — 17-23 from the floor including 12-12 in the 2nd half, and 9-9 from 3 for 50 points — to lead the Knicks to a savage 139-122 win over the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on a Friday night.

Kevin Durant afterwards said Brunson was on pace to be a future Hall of Famer.

Julius Randle had a strong game with 23 points on 10-16 shooting, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, and RJ Barrett also had a terrific game — 21 points on 6-10 shooting (1-2 from 3 and 8-8 in free throws).

The Knick bench was also phenomenal — laying down Defense and moving the ball on offense to turn a 7-point deficit with 3 minutes left in the 3rd into a NY lead and full momentum in the 4th. Immanuel Quickley hit big shots, Quentin Grimes hit two huge 3’s early in the 4th, and Isaiah Hartenstein made a monster block on a Devin Booker dunk attempt midway thru the 4th leading to a fast break bucket the other way.

And through it all, Brunson just kept hitting every shot he took — keeping NY in the game in the 3rd and leading the charge in the 4th as the Knicks romped to a 20-point lead and the easy win.

“It was quite a performance,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards about Brunson. “We got a number of key performances from a lot of people; the bench was terrific. But the way he shot the ball was special. I told him after the Utah game I loved the way he played because he didn’t hesitate. Kept shooting; shot his shot. He works on his game every day. He works on all the shots that he takes in a game. His mental toughness is off the charts. I thought overall the bench play really stood out for us — like they were terrific.”

NY improves to 14-10; Phoenix falls to 13-12.

1. Brunson Determined from the Start

The Knicks were coming off a disappointing loss in Utah where they just couldn’t hit the 3 — including Brunson who shot 0-6 from 3 and missed a potential game-tying 3 with 21 seconds left.

Brunson came into this game focused to do better, and he did.

Brunson came out aggressively, hitting his first shot and going 3-6 in the 1st quarter, with several assists and consecutive steals midway thru the period as NY got out to a 3- to 4-point lead and led 31-30 heading into the 2nd quarter.

2. Durant’s 3 Straight 3’s in 2nd Give Phoenix Momentum

The Knicks maintained a 3- to 4-point lead throughout much of the 2nd quarter, until late in the period when Julius Randle gave Kevin Durant too much spacing and Durant hit 3 consecutive 3’s to tie the game at 58.

Jusuf Nurkic was hurting the Knicks inside, Booker was being Booker, and Grayson Allen was hurting the Knicks outside and with his improved overall game — as Phoenix took control and a 68-63 lead on a Nassir Little 3-pointer just before the half.

3. Brunson Would Not Let Phoenix Pull Away in 3rd

Phoenix looked to pull away in the 3rd — with Grayson Allen continuing to hurt the Knicks with his scoring and overall play.

With 5:53 left in the 3rd Grayson Allen blocked a Jericho Sims layup inside — apparently fouling Sims by hitting him in the face after the block. It was called a foul, but Phoenix won a challenge as the refs said once the block occurred the contact afterwards was incidental.

Instead of Knick free throws for Sims, Phoenix had the ball and scored on a Nassir Little drive and were up 9 at 87-78.

Phoenix would go up by 10 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd, but Brunson would not let Phoenix get away.

  • A Brunson 3 brought the Knicks right back to within 7 at 90-83.
  • Grayson Allen hit a traditional 3-point play to put Phoenix back up 10, but Brunson determinedly drove to the bucket to pull NY within 8 again.
  • Brunson hit a 3 to make it a 5 point game at 93-88.
  • Phoenix pulled out to a 7-point lead but Brunson came back with a jumper and NY was back within 5 at 97-92.

Jalen Brunson put his defender at his mercy whether he was getting in the lane and finishing or creating contact along with making his defender pay big time by not closing out or for going under screens on his jumper,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Also created for others, defended, and takes no play for granted.”

4. Randle and Barrett Strong Game

In between Brunson’s scoring, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were efficiently scoring from the start. Randle powered inside all night and opened up the defense — then passed outside.

After Durant’s 3 consecutive 3’s in the 2nd, Randle did a better job clamping down on him; Durant did little damage on the Knicks in the 2nd half, while Randle powered away on offense.

And Barrett was extremely efficient from the start, driving to the basket, hitting 1 of 2 three’s, and making all his free throws — a great bounce-back game for him after he laid down a stinker shooting performance in Utah.

5. Knick Bench Turns Game at End of 3rd

The Knick bench came in and closed the 3rd quarter well — something they had not done in the prior game against Utah.

Isaiah Hartenstein played tremendous interior defense. Josh Hart did the same. Immanuel Quickley came in and immediately was fouled on a 3 — and hit all free throws to pull NY to within 2 points. Quickely hit a jumper with 12 seconds left in the quarter to send NY into the 4th down 99-97.

6. NY Blows Phoenix Off Court in 4th

And then came the 4th. Quentin Grimes started it with a big 3 to give NY the lead. Quickley hit a 3 to up the NY lead to 2 points. Grimes hit another 3 to give NY a 5-point lead.

Barrett dominated — making consecutive drives to the bucket, drawing fouls and hitting all free throws and NY was up 7, 112-105.

The Knicks played relentless Defense and Brunson started hitting EVERYTHING. In between hitting 3’s and drives and floaters, Brunson stole the ball and fed Randle for a slam.

Randle Blocked Shot; Hartenstein 2 Blocked Shots

Randle blocked a shot inside. Hartenstein came up with a MONSTER BLOCK of a Booker slam attempt — sending the ball the other way for a fast-break drive by Jalen Brunson, and giving NY a 123-111 lead.

Hartenstein blocked a Durant shot inside. Brunson hit a 3 down the other end to make it 126 -111 NY. The blowout was on.

7. Randle Secures the Game Ball for Brunson

As soon as the game ended, Julius Randle demonstrably secured the game ball for Brunson — this having become a thing the night before when Giannis Atetokounmpo scored 50 in a chippy game against Indiana, but they took off with the game ball seemingly out of spite — saying they wanted it for a rookie who scored his first NBA points.

Brunson’s interview after the game:

The Boxscore



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