Jalen Brunson, Knicks fall short anew against Grizzlies

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

Jalen Brunson had his third straight 30-point game but flubbed another chance to win it for the New York Knicks as they fell short for the second time against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Morant had the last laugh in the duel of the point guards.

His monster triple-double — 27 points, career-high 14 assists and 10 rebounds — and clutch baskets allowed the Grizzlies to escape with a 127-123 thriller Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Brunson gave the Knicks a 123-122 lead with 26.3 seconds left, but Morant quickly answered with a putback off his pirouette miss. Brunson’s two misses — a short jumper that hit the back iron and a game-tying floater with 1.6 seconds remaining — sandwiched a Morant split at the line.

Jaren Jackson, Jr. iced the game with two free throws after Brunson’s last missed shot.

“Take your shot. That’s [Brunson’s] bread and butter. He got to where he wanted to be. He got a great shot up. We missed.”

Tom Thibodeau on Jalen Brunson’s last shot via MSG Network

It was the second straight game Brunson missed a shot that could have either won or sent the game into overtime. In their previous overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Brunson also missed a floater at the end of regulation.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Knicks, who battled back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, eerily similar to their 115-112 overtime defeat in their first meeting in Memphis during the season opener.

Questionable to play a few hours before the game, Brunson soldiered on and shrugged off another injury scare in the first half to drop 30 points on top of nine assists and five rebounds.

Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose returned, and Tom Thibodeau used 11 players in the tight game.

Reddish had 11 points while splitting time with Quentin Grimes, who retained the starting shooting guard spot. But he was often pinned on the switch that allowed Morant to exploit the mismatch with Knicks center Mitchell Robinson down the stretch.

Grimes’ shot didn’t fall (2 of 7 from the field), but he still managed to contribute with five points, four assists, two rebounds and one steal in 26 minutes.

RJ Barrett bounced back with a strong game — 22 points on 9 of 18 shots, seven rebounds and four assists — but still was not enough to keep the Knicks from dropping to 9-11.

Robinson was a monster earlier in the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks but lost steam in the end. Julius Randle came one assist short of a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. But he only had nine attempts and just one in the fourth quarter.

It was also a double whammy for the Knicks, who lost Immanuel Quickley to a sore right knee.

The Knicks, losers of four of their last five games, will look to bounce back in Detroit against the lowly Pistons on Tuesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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