NBA playoffs

Superstar in the making: Jalen Brunson explodes for 43 as Knicks edge Pacers


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Superstar in the making: Jalen Brunson explodes for 43 as Knicks edge Pacers

BRUNSON BURNER. New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) during the second quarter of game one of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

New York star guard Jalen Brunson erupts for his 4th straight 40-point playoff game as the Knicks hold off the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals

Jalen Brunson continued his postseason magic with 43 points for his fourth straight 40-point effort as the New York Knicks recorded a 121-117 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference second-round series on Monday night (Tuesday, May 7, Manila time).

Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half and Josh Hart added 24 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists for New York, which erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Isaiah Hartenstein had 13 points and OG Anunoby added 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Knicks.

Myles Turner scored 23 points, Pascal Siakam added 19 and T.J. McConnell had 18 points for the Pacers. Aaron Nesmith and Obi Toppin chipped in 12 points apiece and Andrew Nembhard scored 11 points.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in New York.

Brunson became the fourth player in NBA playoff history to score 40 or more points in four consecutive games. Jerry West reached that mark a record six straight times in 1965. Bernard King (1984) and Michael Jordan (1993) did it in four straight contests.

“I’m not going, ‘I have to score 40,'” Brunson said. “That’s not my mindset at all. I want to be aggressive and make plays for myself and for others.”

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of Brunson, “The thing I love about him is he’s all about the team. All he cares about is winning. And he cares about his teammates.

“In the end, what do we need? Do we need a big bucket? Whatever it is that we need, he’ll provide. The same could be said for all the guys.”

DiVincenzo drained a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 118-115 lead with 40.4 seconds remaining.

Indiana pulled within one on Siakam’s driving layup with 26.6 seconds to go.

The Pacers later had a chance to take the lead, but Turner was called for a moving screen on DiVincenzo with 12.7 seconds left.

“This is from my experience in this league: I think it’s best when the players decide the outcome of the game,” Turner said. “I think it’s unfortunate that it happened and was called a moving screen. But it’s a playoff game. I feel DiVincenzo did a good job of selling it. For the most part, you can’t leave the game to be decided by the refs.”

Indiana made another mistake when Nembhard fouled Brunson before the ball was inbounded. Brunson made the ensuing free throw, and New York kept possession.

Brunson was fouled with 10.7 seconds to play and made two free throws to give New York a 121-117 advantage, and the Knicks closed it out.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said, “There’s always a sharp focus on the last minute, but there were things that happened with five or six minutes left that really hurt us. … It’s not just the last minute or two. It’s the whole game. It’s the whole fourth quarter.

“This is great experience for our guys. It comes at a cost. It’s no fun. But we’re going to have to learn some things for Game 2.”

New York shot 53.7 percent from the field, including 11 of 23 from 3-point range.

The Pacers made 52.3 percent of their attempts from the floor and were 10 of 26 from behind the arc.

Brunson scored seven points during a 9-0 run as New York took a fourth-quarter lead for the first time. Anunoby’s steal and dunk put the Knicks ahead with 3:11 left, and Brunson added a jumper to make it 113-109.

Nesmith’s two free throws and Siakam’s layup allowed the Pacers to knot the score at 113 with 2:10 remaining. Nembhard’s basket with 1:33 left gave Indiana a 115-113 lead, but Brunson hit a short turnaround to tie it 19 seconds later.

Earlier, Indiana led 94-85 after McConnell’s layup with 10:34 left in the game.

McConnell scored 10 points in the first half as the Pacers led 55-49 at the break. Brunson scored 18 points in the half for New York. Indiana led 87-82 after three quarters. –

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