Brunson scored nine of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including eight of the Knicks’ last nine points to bail them out of trouble.
The pesky Raptors cut the Knicks’ 16-point lead to pull within two, 108-106, on Gary Trent, Jr.’s three-pointer with 42.1 seconds remaining.
Brunson responded with a three-point play and two more free throws off Scottie Barnes’ reach-in foul to finish off the Raptors.
“[Brunson] was great closing out for us, whether it was a shot, and-one, or closing out in the free throw line. He was big.”Julius Randle postgame via MGS Network
Brunson just finished what Randle has started.
Randle waxed hot from the get-go. He drilled six three-pointers in the opening quarter on his way to his 11th game with at least 30 points. The Knicks’ power forward finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. It was his 12th double-double in the past 13 games.
“[Randle] was huge. That gave us a lot of confidence. When a guy comes out like that, it sets the tone for the game. And then if you couple that with the defense and the rebounding, you know, and this [Toronto] team, if you put them in the open floor, they could score a bunch of points against you. So I thought that was huge for us.”Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network
Randle and Brunson have been everything for the Knicks this season, but they were two of the biggest snubs in the initial All-Star fan balloting.
The Knicks have now won four straight after a five-game losing streak to move four games above .500. They are currently tied with the Indiana Pacers for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 22-18 record.
With the Knicks’ 1-2 punch in sync, the Knicks led by as many as 17 points. But the Raptors kept on coming back until Brunson put them away.
Quentin Grimes, who was not around when Pascal Siakam exploded for a career-high 52 points to power the Raptors 113-106 win in New York last month, added 16 points with four three-pointers.
Siakam was held to 18 points on 4 of 14 shooting this time around.
Immanuel Quickley was again solid in his sixth consecutive start, scattering 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Quickley is averaging 19.8 points, 6.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds over his last six games.
Mitchell Robinson bounced back from another sub-par game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Knicks starting center pulled 18 rebounds and scored 10 points before fouling out. His relentless work in the glass helped the Knicks beat the Raptors in the rebounding (51-46) and second-chance points (17-13).
They will be looking to make it five in a row when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who got ambushed by the Charlotte Hornets, 138-109, earlier.
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