The New York Knicks had a sense of relief after Jalen Brunson’s X-ray result came negative.
New York coach Tom Thibodeau described Brunson’s left foot injury as a “bruise” to reporters before their Saturday clash with the Los Angeles Clippers.
It will be the Knicks’ seventh game without their starting point guard this season, and third over their last four games.
The Knicks are 3-3 without him this season and were one or two defensive stops away from completing a come-from-behind win against the Sacramento Kings after losing Brunson to injury at halftime.
“Obviously, it’s gonna be tough to replace his production,” said Julius Randle, whose key turnover down the stretch hastened Thursday’s loss in Sacramento.
But the grittiness of the Knicks, exemplified in their spirited comeback from a 21-point deficit to give themselves a shot at winning has Randle exuding confidence they can weather the brewing storm.
“We’ll do it. We’re up to the task,” Randle added.
“Right now, we just got to find a way to lock in, basically really on defense more than anything. Get off to a little bit better starts and be more consistent on the defensive end throughout the game, so we don’t need runs to make up ground. But I feel like we’ll be fine.”
Randle have carried the Knicks in six games without Brunson this season, averaging 29.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. But aside from him, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett are expected to step up in Brunson’s absence.
Quickley is averaging 22.7 points, 7.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals without Brunson this season. But he’s on a shooting slump over their last two games following his career night in Boston last Sunday.
Barrett had big performances in three of the four games he played without Brunson this season. His numbers — 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists — in those games were skewed by his scoreless performance in Dallas where he cut his index finger two minutes into the game.
The Knicks need to collectively fill up Brunson’s shoes if they are to stay at fifth spot in the East.
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