Jalen Brunson’s heroics lead the Knicks to their fifth consecutive win

Jalen Brunson’s heroics lead the Knicks to their fifth consecutive win

Jalen Brunson’s heroics lead the Knicks to their fifth consecutive win

CHICAGO — Foot bruise? What a bruise on the foot.

Jalen Brunson certainly didn’t look like someone limited by injury Wednesday night. A decision made in game time, Brunson would not miss the opportunity to play in front of family and friends so close to where he spent most of his childhood.

After resorting to an isolation ball with Julius Randle to close out regulation, the Knicks put the ball in Brunson’s hands in the extra session, and he did not disappoint. He scored seven of his 30 points in the final five minutes as the Knicks eliminated the Bulls, 128-120, at the United Center after blowing a five-point lead in the final 2:07 of regulation. The win, the Knicks’ sixth road win in eight tries, gave them a season-high five-game hitting streak and moved them within two games over .500 at 15-13 for the first time since late October.

Quentin Grimes hit arguably the biggest shot of the game, a 3-point shot that fell off the front of the rim and dropped to give the Knicks a six-point lead with 1:04 left. Brunson then hit another three-pointer after a crossover kicked Alex Caruso down. He displayed rare emotion, celebrating the big shot by shouting at his high school coach, Pat Ambrose, and two close friends who were seated under the hoop.

“Pretty special,” was how Brunson described the evening.

Jalen Brunson (11) of the New York Knicks watches the basket
Jalen Brunson didn’t appear to be bothered by a foot injury as he helped the Knicks move forward.
AP Photo

As recently as Monday, Brunson was wearing a walking boot after Davion Mitchell landed awkwardly with his right foot in the Knicks’ victory over the Kings Sunday. He didn’t finish that match and couldn’t train on Tuesday. But against the Bulls, he logged 39 minutes and was at his best in overtime.

In retrospect, it seemed silly that there was even a question about her status.

“I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m healthy, but I didn’t want to take time off today,” said Brunson, who also had seven assists. “Me as a leader, if I’m able to walk and I’m able to play, I have to carry it.”

As a group, the Knicks took it into overtime, mostly on the defensive end. They held the Bulls to just three points on 1-of-7 shooting after allowing them to shoot 58% in the first four quarters. It was similar to their previous four wins as the Knicks held three opponents under 100 points.

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) defends against New York Knicks forward Julius Randle
Julius Randle remained glowing as the Knicks’ streak continued.
Chicago Bulls' Goran Dragic (7) passes the ball as New York Knicks' Isaiah Hartenstein (55) Immanuel Quickley (5) and Jericho Sims defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Goran Dragic (7) of the Chicago Bulls passes the ball while Isaiah Hartenstein (55) Immanuel Quickley (5) and Jericho Sims of the New York Knicks defend.
AP Photo

“It was good to see,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “I’d rather see it first.”

Randle had a season-high 31 points — his third 30-point effort in four games — along with 13 rebounds and seven assists, and RJ Barrett had 22 points before failing at the end of regulation. Grimes had 14 points, five rebounds and a team best plus 14. DeMar DeRozan had 32 goals for the Bulls (11-16), who snapped their three-game hitting streak at home.

The Knicks led by as many as 14 points in the first half and led by five points going into the final two minutes. But they couldn’t finish off the Bulls in regulation time as Randle aired a baseline fade, leaving Chicago with 0.7 seconds left to win it. Randle, however, read the lob play well and got between Patrick Williams and the rim, forcing overtime.

Knicks guard Miles McBride celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the first half.

“Sometimes you have to win games in different ways, and the bottom line is just finding a way to win,” said Thibodeau.

The Knicks left no doubts from then on. Brunson made sure of it, wrong right foot and all, producing his fourth 30-point game of the season.

“It says a lot about him. That’s all,” Thibodeau said. “Coming up, [getting] more treatments every day. That becomes his game, it becomes his practice. He’s been through so many different things. He has a strategy for everything. It just goes out and does it.

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