College Hoops

Jalen Brunson, Nikola Jokic power Knicks, Nuggets; Caitlin Clark struggles in WNBA debut

Jalen Brunson, Nikola Jokic power Knicks, Nuggets; Caitlin Clark struggles in WNBA debut


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THE NEW YORK KNICKS AND THE DENVER NUGGETS

The Knicks were supposed to be too exhausted, supposed to be too injured, supposed to be … whatever.

Trouble is, Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein and the rest of the orange and blue crew didn’t get that memo, apparently. New York responded from a Game 4 blowout loss with a romp of their own in Game 5, thumping the Pacers121-91, to take a 3-2 series lead.

  • After two mediocre games in Indiana, Brunson was magnificent with 44 points. It was his fifth 40-point game this postseason, the most in a single playoffs since LeBron James had eight in 2018.
  • Hartenstein tied a Knicks playoff record with 12 offensive rebounds. Overall, the Knicks had 20 offensive rebounds, which they turned in 27 second-chance points. New York had 101 shot attempts; Indiana had 72.
  • New York is the first team in the league to lose a playoff game by at least 30 points and then respond with a victory by at least 30 points since the 2016 NBA Finals, when the James-led Cavaliers did it.

I love Brunson’s game. He’s far from the biggest, strongest or quickest. But he constantly beats bigger (Aaron Nesmith), stronger (Andrew Nembhard) and quicker (T.J. McConnell) defenders. He plays at his own pace, spinning and contorting and faking and creating. He didn’t win MVP, but he deserves every “MVP” chant that echos inside Madison Square Garden.

The Pacers have no excuses.

  • Tyrese Haliburton scored a paltry 13 points and attempted only nine…

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