Jalen Brunson shields Knicks embattled coach Tom Thibodeau from blame: ‘It’s on us’

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Nov 25, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after being called for a foul against Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) by referee Pat Fraher (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The “Fire Thibs” train is gaining steam in New York after another dispiriting Knicks home loss.

Jalen Brunson was lackluster in his first meeting against his old team, as he failed to galvanize the Knicks in a second-half meltdown leading to a 121-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

The boos got louder as the Mavericks’ lead grew larger in the second half.

Their fifth straight loss at home ranks above their dispiriting145-35 defeat to a young Oklahoma City Thunder team last month, which reportedly led to heightened scrutiny around the entire organization.

Usually, when heads roll, the coach gets axed first.

Brunson, who had an uncharacteristic 13 points on 11 shots, three assists against three turnovers, quickly came to Thibodeau’s defense.

“I think coach Thibs has done a great job. And he’s been able to put us in positions where we need to succeed, and he knows where to put those puzzle pieces. It’s just on us to actually execute and do things. So I know he’s gonna get a lot of blame, but it’s on us. I mean, we’re the players out there not battling. His job is to put us in positions, which he’s done.”

Jalen Brunson postgame via MSG Network

Thibodeau is on the third year of a five-year contract. After squeezing the best out of a rag-tag Knicks team in his first year, leading to their first playoff appearance in eight years, things started to unravel.

They were exposed in the Atlanta Hawks series.

And Leon Rose’s 2021 offseason moves spectacularly failed, with Evan Fournier following Kemba Walker’s fate.

Rose tried to rebound quickly, stealing Brunson away from the Mavericks. But as great as Brunson is, this Knicks’ current core is mediocre at best.

And with each numbing and humbling loss at home, the fans’ outcry is becoming more unbearable and awkward.

After Luka Doncic and former Knick Tim Hardaway, Jr. haunted them on a rainy Saturday afternoon, Donovan Mitchell, the All-Star that got away last summer, will be looking to pour more gas on the fire rapidly engulfing the Knicks organization.

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