7th Heaven: Knicks trash Nets in dominant fashion

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

In December, Charles Barkley said on national TV that the New York Knicks were not even the best team in the city.

Two months later, the Knicks have flipped that script with back-to-back dominant wins against their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets.

Jalen Brunson dropped a career-high 30 points in the first half as the Knicks blew the Nets out of the gate to rack up their seventh straight win — a rousing 142-118 victory — before a delirious soldout Garden crowd on Wednesday night.

The 37-27 Knicks pulled 1 /12 game closer to the fourth-seed Cleveland Cavaliers (39-27), who fell to Boston Celtics despite Donovan Mitchell’s 44 points.

Brunson, who dominated Mitchell in the last playoffs, was at his best in the opening half, leading the Knicks’ carnage of the deflated Nets. The Nets blitzed him after the halftime break, but Brunson spread the offense as the Knicks kept their foot on the pedal.

Brunson finished with 39 points on an ultra-efficient 15 of 18 shots, with five rebounds and six assists in another phenomenal performance.

The Knicks fired 14 triples in the opening half, which matched their most 3s made in a half. They led by as many as 30 points in the first half where they scored 81 points, the third-most in franchise history and most since scoring 82 in 2008.

Despite Brunson’s scoring outburst, the Knicks shared the ball with 28 assists as five more players scored in double figures.

“I love that [Brunson] is unselfish. He’s playing for the team. He’s prioritizing winning,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And that goes a long way when your best players are willing to do that. They make your team cohesive.”

Quentin Grimes hit 6 of 9 from downtown and finished with 22 points. Julius Randle almost had a triple-double with 21 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Mitchell Robinson continued to monster run since his return with his fourth consecutive double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds, the best stretch in his career.

The Knicks remained unbeaten since Josh Hart joined at the trade deadline. Hart had his lowest scoring game since his arrival with only four points but led the team in the plus-minus with plus-30.

With the game beyond reach late in the fourth quarter, Miles McBride and rookie Trevor Keels became the second and third players to play in the G League and an NBA game on the same day since Malachi Flynn in 2021.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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