In the second game of a back-to-back at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks tipped off against a struggling Wizards squad, and something was off about the game from the jump. Holding just a one-point lead entering the second half, the Knicks had just 46 points, struggling to find much on offense and get things going, especially with their second unit. It wouldn’t last all game however, as the Knicks pulled themselves together in the fourth quarter and put Washington away, guided by a ridiculous performance from Jalen Brunson.
Scoring 41 points on the night, the star guard led the Knicks to a much-needed win that completed their sweep of the back-to-back, as they improved to an impressive 13-5 at home.
Jalen Brunson Carries a Struggling Knicks Offense to a Win
Tonight wasn’t a dominant or stress-free win, but it still counts the same as the rest of their wins, and Jalen Brunson showed once again why he’s one of the best scorers in the NBA. With the Knicks offense in a bind, Jalen Brunson added 41 points on the night on 51.9% shooting from the field, and he was the engine of their offense on the night. It was a grind for the Knicks to get points, and if Brunson were merely good instead of excellent, they would have dropped this game to a team they have no business losing to.
Furthermore, the 26-year-old added eight assists and eight rebounds, having one of his best all-around games as a Knick and doing so on Villanova Night at Madison Square Garden. OG Anunoby, who has become the team’s best defender, had two blocks while adding 19 points on 66% shooting from the field. His efficiency and seamless fit into the lineup has immediately paid off, as they’re 8-2 since his acquisition.
Donte DiVincenzo would also show up in the night honoring his alma mater as he would drain five threes for 19 points and go a team-best +15 on the court. He’s been a dynamic shooter for this offense and has kept the Knicks in games when shooters go cold with his ability to take plenty of threes and draw defenders to the perimeter. While Julius Randle slowed down after a hot start, he did add 21 points and eight rebounds, remaining efficient with his scoring.
A big reason the Knicks got as many chances as they did to get their scoring back online was because Isaiah Harteinstein brought down 17 rebounds on the night. He was a huge reason for defensive stops as he would frequently convert missed shots from the Wizards into rebounds, but the Knicks weren’t in trouble because of their starters; their bench kept Washington lurking all game.
The Knicks got seven total points from their bench, as they couldn’t get anything going from players like Quentin Grimes or Evan Fournier, and it forced their hand into keeping their starters out there for nearly the entire game. While not having Josh Hart meant they ran short-handed, had they pulled any of their starters for a minute longer, they might have ended up dropping this game.
Interest in acquiring a shot creator for the bench couldn’t be higher than it is right now, as while the Knicks climbed to 25-17 on the season, their flaws almost proved fatal in tonight’s contest.