New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson’s worst shooting night of the season came at the worse possible time.
In a marquee matchup against future Hall of Famer Stephen Curry on a nationally televised game, Brunson fizzled out and the Knicks went down with him in a 111-101 loss Friday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Brunson finished in double figures with 13 points but was held to 2 of 13 shooting, snapping a four-game streak of shooting above 50 percent. On the other hand, Curry waltzed his way to 24 points on 47 percent shooting night with five triples and 10 assists to lead the Warriors’ easy win.
The crafty Brunson missed his first four shots of the game, which typified the Knicks’ shooting struggles. The Knicks, as a whole, missed 26 of their first 31 shots that allowed the hot-shooting Warriors to zoom to double-digit leads.
“The start of the game was problematic. [Warriors] got out in transition, got some open looks, layups. We fought back. I thought we played pretty well to close the half to get it down to 10 but we had given them so much of a lead and a cushion to start with. It’s hard to slow people down once they get going in this league.”Tom Thibodeau postgame via NBA.com
It’s harder when they are the defending champions who can shoot practically anywhere on the court. The Warriors led by as much as 22, and the Knicks never got closer than within eight the rest of the way.
Brunson pinned the blame for the Knicks’ lackadaisical start on himself.
“I played terrible. That’s the focal point of it. I played terrible.”Jalen Brunson via NY Post
The Warriors’ constant cutting and ball movement left the Knicks’ defense scrambling. It didn’t help that they couldn’t hit their shots to counter the Warriors’ red-hot shooting.
Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins combined for 64 points. Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett only managed 51 points, with Brunson and Barrett misfiring a combined 24 attempts from the field.
The Knicks’ demons — suspect perimeter shooting and defense — reared their ugly heads again as the Warriors flooded them with 18 of 50 3s.
“They were just playing a little faster than us. We kind of eased our way into the game. I eased our way into the game. You can’t give a team like that any room at all. You’ve got to be ready to go.
“[They are] very hard to guard. I mean, they’ve won four out of the last eight titles. It’s very self-explanatory. You’ve got to be ready to go.”Jalen Brunson via Newsday
So there’s the sizable gap the Knicks must close to become a serious contender.
In the meantime, they are a middle-of-the-pack team that can spring an upset on some nights when their shots fall, and their defense is sharp.
Friday night was not one of them. Especially against the defending champions on the road.
It could have been a different story had Brunson’s shots fell.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo