Jalen Brunson Propels Knicks To 3-2 Lead Over Pacers

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks, NBA
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson scored 44 points, hitting the 40-point mark for the fifth time in this NBA postseason, and the New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 121-91 on Tuesday for a 3-2 lead in their playoff series.

“I think as a team, no matter what the situation is, we have the same mindset no matter what,” Brunson said. “And regardless of how I’m feeling or someone else is feeling, we know what’s at stake, we know what we have to do, and we’re going to figure it out.”

Brunson injured his right foot in Game 2 and was limited to 18 points Sunday, his lowest of the postseason. He continues to express that he’s fine and showed it Tuesday, shooting 18 for 35 and again looking like the player who finished fifth in MVP voting.

“We still need one more win so we can’t get too excited about it,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have to understand what we need to do, stay focused on the task at hand. If you feel good about yourself you get knocked down in this league. We’ve got to be ready to go.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks, Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers Updates

Brunson scored 28 in the opening half to set a new Knicks playoff record, then put away the game in the fourth with seven straight points. He pushed New York to be up 106-86 early in the frame using a three-point play.

“I think we’ve done a good job of responding to adversity all season,” Brunson said. “We’ve been in tough situations before, and we’ve always found a way to come out on top. So, I think we’re confident in our ability to respond and come out with a win.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks, Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers Updates

The Knicks face the opportunity to win the series Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse after the first two-day break between games. Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Sunday afternoon.

“He definitely helps us with spacing because he has the ability to make shots and also can make plays when people rotate over to him,” Brunson said of teammate Miles McBride, who scored 17 points after being inserted into the starting lineup.

Alec Burks added 18 points off the bench, and Isaiah Hartenstein had seven points and 17 rebounds. The Knicks overwhelmed the Pacers 53-29 on the glass, with 20 offensive rebounds leading to 26 second-chance points.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks, Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers Updates

Pascal Siakam scored 22 points for the sixth-seeded Pacers, who will try to stay unbeaten at home in the postseason to force the decisive game. Myles Turner added 16, but All-Star Tyrese Haliburton had only 13 after averaging 29.7 over the last three games.

The Knicks haven’t reached the Eastern Conference Finals since the Pacers defeated them in 2000. They then lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

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