Knicks get captivating performance from star guard in 126-100 win over the Raptors

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Knicks looking to make it three-in-a-row at Madison Square Garden, they would welcome two familiar faces home as they took on the Toronto Raptors. Receiving a warm welcome in the form of a standing ovation, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley would return to New York for the first time since being traded for OG Anunoby on December 30th. It was a close contest in the open, but after a dominant third quarter, the Knicks never looked back as Jalen Brunson would drop 38 points in another excellent scoring night.

Despite the Knicks having a myriad of turnovers that kept the Raptors in the game, they were able to pull through and improve to a remarkable 14-5 at home on the season, clinching the season series over Toronto.

Jalen Brunson Shines in Knicks’ Third-Straight Victory

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) attempts a three-point shot against Toronto Raptors guard RJ Barrett (9) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson was marvelous in his third-straight game dropping 30 or more points since returning from his left calf injury, and the guard has been unbelievable this season. Improving on a great first season with the Knicks, Brunson was able to hit 56.5% of his shots including five threes for 38 points, and his scoring tear has been a difference-maker for the Knicks this season. He jumpstarted the offense tonight and added nine assists for good measure, going a team-best +22 on the court tonight.

With Isaiah Harteinstein suffering an ankle injury that held him to just 23 minutes on the night, the Knicks would need a rebounder to step up, and Julius Randle rose to the occasion. While he had seven turnovers, the two-time All-NBA forward went for 16 rebounds, helping the Knicks to outrebound the Raptors 61-31 on the night. He had another triple-double with 10 assists and 18 points, taking just 12 shots on the night but having a strong all-around game.

Precious Achiuwa would also step up and provide some late-game buckets and rebounds, and stepping up when Hartenstein was out with his ankle injury. He scored 18 points with 11 rebounds, adding a block as well and having arguably his best game since coming over from Toronto. It’s unclear whether he’ll need to play more following the aforementioned ankle injury, but if he can play the way he did tonight the Knicks will certainly hold their own in his absence.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) is fouled as he drives to the basket by Toronto Raptors forward Bruce Brown (11) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

OG Anunoby was excellent tonight as well with 14 efficient points, bringing down seven boards and going +20 on the court, and he continues to be the anchor on defense for the Knicks. He had three blocks and a steal, and his historic impact in the plus-minus department has guided the team to a 9-2 record since his acquisition. Anunoby is one of the best defenders in the NBA, and he’s meshed perfectly with what the Knicks have in their rotation.

Donte DiVincenzo had 17 points on 12 shots and helped to facilitate the offense with his ability to create buckets and generate offense. Josh Hart returned to the team from a knee injury, adding 10 points on five shots with nine rebounds, going +20 on the court. The Knicks got points from Malachi Flynn (3), Miles McBride (3), and Quentin Grimes (4) as well, and it was an excellent team showing in a great win for New York.

The Knicks improved to 26-17 on the season, and they won’t have to travel too far as they take on the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday.