The New York Knicks are officially a problem in the Eastern Conference, and it’s thanks in large part to Jalen Brunson, who has become Madison Square Garden’s hero. Late on Thursday night, the Knicks’ fans support and resounding ‘MVP’ chants nearly made Brunson tear up on the court.
After putting up 40 points in the Knicks’ 109-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers, which extended their winning streak to nine games, Brunson stopped to chat with the sideline reporter. As the two tried to conduct the post-game interview, the MSG faithful began serenading Brunson with “M-V-P! M-V-P!” An exhausted and grateful Brunson had no reply.
“I mean, I got nothing to say,” Brunson said as he tried to hold all his emotions in. “I got nothing to say.”
The touching moment was the culmination of a perfect night for Brunson., along with teammate Julius Randle. Brunson just narrowly missed out on being a starter, as he finished tied with Damian Lillard in the combined weighted score, but did not have as many fan votes as the Milwaukee Bucks guard. The coaches, though, were not going to overlook Brunson, and picked him as a reserve.
Brunson then went out and played a terrific game to lead the short-handed Knicks to a crucial win over the Pacers. He scored 11 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, and routinely stepped up when the Knicks needed him the most.
With his team down by three the middle of the frame, Brunson rattled off a personal 7-0 run to put them in front. Then, after the Pacers had re-taken the lead with two minutes to play on a controversial no-call in which he got hit in the face, Brunson came down and hit a floater that gave the Knicks the lead for good. His two free throws with 15 seconds left got him to 40 for the fifth time this season and put the game away.
For the season, Brunson is averaging 27.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, while shooting 41.7% from 3-point land. All of those numbers are career-highs, and Brunson has the Knicks in third place in the East at 32-17, just half a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We kept fighting man,” Brunson said of his team’s effort to come back from a 15-point deficit. “No matter what, we’re gonna keep fighting. That’s what we do. We’re gonna keep fighting every single night. Especially here, man, this place is unbelievable.”