NBA playoffs

Jalen Brunson shakes off injury, sends Knicks past Pacers


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Jalen Brunson shakes off injury, sends Knicks past Pacers

GUTSY. Knicks guard Jalen Brunson celebrates in the fourth quarter after scoring against the Pacers in Game 2.

Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘Lot of toughness,’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau says of New York star Jalen Brunson, who came back strong in the closing quarters after a first-half injury

Jalen Brunson returned from a first-half injury to spark a second-half comeback for the host New York Knicks, who beat the Indiana Pacers, 130-121, in Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night, May 8 (Thursday, May 9, Manila time).  

The second-seeded Knicks lead the sixth-seeded Pacers, 2-0, in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday night, May 10, in Indianapolis.

Brunson missed the final 15:32 of the first half with a right foot injury. The Knicks led 24-17 when Brunson exited, but they entered the second half down 73-63.

Brunson drew a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden after leading the Knicks out for warmups prior to the third quarter. 

He played all 24 second-half minutes and had 24 of his team-high 29 points – along with 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 rebound – over the final two quarters as New York outscored the Pacers, 67-48.

“Lot of toughness,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of Brunson. “That’s sort of, I think, the makeup – we know that’s his makeup, but that’s also the makeup of our team.

“The mental-toughness piece is so important – the ability to get through things, to be at your best when your best is needed even when you may not be feeling your best. And that’s who he is. Great leader.”

New York’s OG Anunoby scored 28 points before leaving with 3:27 left in the third quarter due to a left hamstring injury. The Knicks are already playing without Mitchell Robinson, who will miss at least six weeks after aggravating a left ankle injury in Game 1, and Julius Randle, who is out for the season with a right shoulder injury sustained in January.

Donte DiVincenzo also had 28 points while Josh Hart (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Isaiah Hartenstein (14 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles for the Knicks, who played the final 8:01 without making a substitution.

Tyrese Haliburton had 34 points and 9 assists for the Pacers, while Obi Toppin scored 20 points off the bench. Andrew Nembhard had 15 points, Pascal Siakam added 14 points and 9 rebounds, and TJ McConnell had a double-double (10 points, 12 assists) off the bench.

“We need to get home. We need to play better,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

Nembhard opened the third quarter with a layup for the Pacers before New York went on a 36-16 run to end the period with a 99-91 lead. 

Indiana scored the first 6 points of the fourth to begin a 10-3 run that ended with McConnell hitting a layup with 8:03 left to cut the Pacers’ deficit to 102-101.

Hart hit a three-pointer and Indiana got within 2 points four more times, the last coming at 112-110 on a floater by Haliburton with 4:35 remaining. 

But DiVincenzo drained an open corner three-pointer on the Knicks’ next trip, and Siakam missed a three-point try and two free throws on the Pacers’ following possession.

“At the end of the day, we got outplayed,” Haliburton said. “We were right there to win the game.

“At the end of the day, it’s 2-0. We’re going back to Indy and I like us in any matchup. I’m not worried.” –

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