Knicks blow big lead, waste Jalen Brunson’s career night

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Jan 9, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket in front of Milwaukee Bucks guard Jevon Carter (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson had a career night, but Jrue Holiday had the last laugh.

Firing blanks and on a fouling spree early on, Holiday came alive down the stretch and hit the big shots that propelled the Milwaukee Bucks’ come-from-behind 111-107 win over the New York Knicks Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Brunson scored a career-high 44 points, but it was not enough, and the Knicks’ four-game winning streak got snapped. Holiday came through with 10 of his 15 points in the final 2:23 as the Bucks snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Milwaukee shot 19 of 49 from deep, including 4 of 6 corner 3 in the fourth quarter that took the life out of the Knicks.

Brunson gave the Knicks their last lead, 96-94, but Holiday responded with big shot after big shot.

Holiday couldn’t get anything going after picking up three quick fouls against Brunson in the opening quarter. He was 1 of 7 from deep heading into the final 2:23, but his confidence was unshaken. He proceeded to drill two triples and a step-back jumper. His two free throws with eight seconds left capped a 10-point scoring spree that sealed Milwaukee’s comeback from a 17-point third-quarter deficit.

Julius Randle had his customary double-double (25 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists) but he was hesitant to shoot down the stretch, and relied on Brunson.

The Knicks’ starting point guard had 18 in the last period, including 15 inside the final five minutes. But Holiday stepped up and thwarted Brunson’s career night.

Immanuel Quickley was the only other Knicks player who scored in double figures with 23 points. The rest of the nine-man rotation combined for only 18 points on an atrocious 5-of-28 shooting.

Collectively, the Knicks only made 11 of 41 3s.

Obi Toppin had a quiet return to the rotation with three points and one steal in eight minutes. The third-year forward supplanted Jericho Sims, who had his first DNP in the last 16 games.

“We didn’t close the third out well. Then the start of the fourth [quarter], the same thing [happened]. So, that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network

Isaiah Hartenstein missed all of his six attempts with his five-minute spell of Robinson toward the end of the third quarter signaled the Knicks’ fall. The Bucks stormed back from a 17-point deficit and sliced it to six, 70-76, by the time Robinson came back for Hartenstein in the final 20.6 seconds of the third quarter.

Even after Brunson extended it to eight heading into the fourth quarter, it was too late for New York as the momentum had already shifted to Milwaukee’s side.

A Joe Ingles three-pointer at the 9:23 mark of the final period gave the Bucks their first lead since 29-28. It was a tight game from there before Holiday took over down the stretch.

The loss dropped the Knicks (22-19) to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, one game behind their next opponent, Indiana Pacers (23-18).

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