New York Knicks rising star Jalen Brunson had an efficient game Monday night, scoring 23 points on 9 of 18 shooting and dishing out 10 assists with two steals against only two turnovers. But the Minnesota Timberwolves repeatedly hunted him down on switches to hammer out a 140-134 win over the Knicks.
But to Brunson’s credit, he competed on the defensive end despite giving up more than half-foot in size to 6-foot-9 wing Jaden McDaniels, who was one of the Timberwolves players in double digits with 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field.
Brunson forced McDaniels to miss a tough jumper, with the Knicks trailing by three in the final 22.5 seconds. But Julius Randle failed to control the rebound. Kyle Anderson snatched the offensive rebound, which led to Taurean Prince’s dagger off a baseline drive.
Brunson didn’t fault Randle, though. Instead, he felt sorry for Randle and put the blame on himself.
After all, Randle was spent scoring 57 points, the most by any Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony back in 2014, to lead the Knicks’ comeback from a 17-point deficit.
“[Randle] played so well he brought us back,” Brunson said. He played unbelievable. We just gotta be better as a team to help him make that career night feel like something special but when you lose that [way], it just trumps all the feeling out of everything.”
“Thankful for him for bringing us back in the game, but as a team, we got to be better collectively.”
The Knicks squandered a five-point lead inside the final 4:41 of the game after a Brunson layup.
An 8-0 run sparked by veteran guard Mike Conley put the Timberwolves back on the driver’s seat.
Prince shot the lights out with an 8 for 8 marksmanship from behind the arc en route to a season-high 35 points. The Timberwolves followed his lead, collectively shooting 61.4% from the field. They hit 14 of 24 3s.
Many of those shots were open as the Knicks got pinned down under screens and were a step slow defensively. Immanuel Quickley gave up six free throws as he tried hard to navigate screens but still wound up late, which led to a couple of fouls on a Timberwolves shooter attempting a 3.
“That’s frustrating,” Brunson said. “Gotta give them credit, and they didn’t miss, but we didn’t make them miss. The offense wasn’t a problem [Monday night]. Defensively that was terrible. I gotta be better and it starts with me. I just gotta be better on defense.”
Prince made Brunson his target shooting. He was 6 for 6 against Brunson. Conley and Jaylen Nowell combined to hit 2 of 3 against him. But to Brunson’s credit, he’s had more success containing the much bigger McDaniels, who went 1 of 4 against his defense.
“We were scrambling not hard enough. We didn’t get people off the line. We weren’t making them drive, and we weren’t playing hard enough,” Brunson said. “They were playing harder than us, and that’s it’s something that you’d never wanna tell yourself or think about, but that was the case [Monday night].”
Brunson gave credit where it is due, as the Timberwolves played well despite missing their top stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo