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Mar 30, 2024 4:02 pm

Jalen Brunson, Knicks try to rebound in home matchup against Thunder

jalen brunson

Jalen Brunson had one of the best individual games in New York Knicks history Friday night.

But all he was thinking about was the result — a loss for the Knicks that might have an impact on their playoff seeding.

The Knicks will look to bounce back Sunday night, when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a battle of playoff-bound clubs.

Both teams were off after playing Friday, when Brunson scored 61 points in a 130-126 overtime loss to the host San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder, playing without star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, rolled to a 128-103 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns.

Brunson’s 61 points were one shy of the franchise record set by Carmelo Anthony in a 125-96 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 24, 2014. The star point guard scored 38 second-half points, tying a franchise record set by Patrick Ewing in 1995, and hoisted 47 shots, the most since Kobe Bryant took 50 shots in his final game April 13, 2016.

But Brunson missed his final attempt, a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with five seconds left. Precious Achiuwa committed a turnover on the rebound and Tre Jones iced the win with two free throws for the Spurs.

The loss dropped the Knicks (44-29) into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, who beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-114 on Friday night. New York also fell two games behind the second-place Milwaukee Bucks, who were idle.

“It’s great, but that (expletive) – excuse me, that stuff is washed out the window with a loss,” Brunson said. “So it doesn’t really matter.”

The Thunder (51-22) were in far better spirits Friday, when they moved into a tie for first place in the Western Conference with the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose 111-98 win over the Denver Nuggets dropped the defending NBA champions into third place.

The Thunder and Timberwolves split the four-game season series. Minnesota is officially in first place in the West by the narrowest of margins thanks to its 12-3 record within the Northwest Division – a half-game better than Oklahoma City’s 12-4 mark.

Gilgeous-Alexander, sidelined for a second straight game with a bruised right thigh, watched as the Thunder led for the final three quarters Friday. Head coach Mark Daigneault said prior to Friday’s game that Gilgeous-Alexander is improving.

Oklahoma City iced Friday’s victory in the third, when Josh Giddey scored 13 of his 23 points as the hosts outscored the Suns 31-21. Giddey tied a career-high with 31 points in Wednesday’s 132-126 overtime loss to the Houston Rockets.

He played just under 32 minutes against the Rockets after playing 30-plus minutes in a 119-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. It was just the second time this season Giddey has played at least 30 minutes in consecutive games.

“Hopefully, identity-wise, we look about the same,” Daigneault said about the Thunder without Gilgeous-Alexander. “I do think him being out has allowed some guys to stretch out a little bit, even just from a minutes standpoint.”

-Field Level Media

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