Jalen Brunson returned to ‘MVP’ chants in among the finest victories of this more and more spectacular Knicks marketing campaign.
The level guard, emblematic of the Knicks’ resurgence this season, emerged from a three-game damage absence and punished the Nuggets on the bookends of a 116-110 victory Saturday in entrance of a pumped Madison Square Garden crowd.
Brunson dropped 16 of his 24 factors within the first quarter, then buried the Western Conference leaders with an alley-oop cross to Mitchell Robinson with 24 seconds remaining.
It secured the Knicks (42-31) their highest season win complete in a decade, surpassing the 41 victories in the course of the shortened pandemic marketing campaign of 2020-21. More vital to postseason ramifications, the Knicks moved two video games forward of the Nets for fifth within the East.
“I’m enjoying it,” Josh Hart mentioned. “I think we’re all enjoying it.”
After a largely back-and-forth contest, the Knicks trailed by 13 factors halfway by the third quarter. Then they took full management whereas outscoring the Nuggets, 45-26, over the ultimate 18-plus minutes.
“I thought the fourth quarter was our best,” Tom Thibodeau mentioned. “I liked the way we started the game. I didn’t like the way we played in the second quarter, but I thought we came back in the third quarter pretty solid. Fourth quarter we were at our best. It was a number of people doing a lot of things well.”
Nikola Jokic, the two-time MVP, crammed the stat sheet per traditional with 24 factors, 10 rebounds and eight assists. But he was outplayed within the last three minutes by Robinson, who added a pivotal steal off Jokic to his game-sealing dunk.
It felt like a poignant efficiency after Robinson grumped about his function on offense earlier this week. Robinson took simply 4 photographs Saturday however closing out a win towards the West’s high workforce has a method of making good vibes.
“We’re confident in ourselves,” Robinson mentioned. “We feel like we can beat anybody.”
The Nuggets (47-24) would possibly’ve been ripe for choosing whereas dropping for the fifth time of their final six video games, however the Knicks additionally discovered methods to take benefit by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
Brunson broke a tie with a shot within the paint with three minutes remaining. About two minutes later, he stepped to the foul line and was showered with ‘MVP’ chants.
“It’s special,” Brunson mentioned. “I’m just happy we won and it’s a great fanbase to play in front of and I appreciate it but got a long way to go before that.”
Josh Hart, who was additionally teammates with Brunson in school, was extra expansive on significance.
“It’s really dope for me to see obviously, knowing him since 2014, watching his progression, watching him grow just as a friend, it’s amazing cause I’ve seen the work behind the scenes,” Hart mentioned. “And he is aware of this and I’ve probably the most respect for him as virtually any NBA man or basketball participant typically as a result of he continues to grind, continues to work.
“I think the biggest thing that sums that up is he’s about to go into free agency, fortunate enough to be signing the biggest contract of his career that’s gonna set his family up for a long time and we’re both at Villanova and he’s in there at 6 or 7 a.m. He beat me there. And this is someone who like I said, about to sign an unbelievable contract, still ready to work, still wanting to work, still hungry to work. For me, man, it’s just amazing to see. I’ve seen the work. And that’s what he does.”