Knicks Studs and Duds: Jalen Brunson explodes in win over the Kings

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles the basketball against Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A playoff atmosphere was live in Golden 1 Center as the New York Knicks continued their four-game road trip against a formidable Sacramento Kings. Jalen Brunson continues to solidify himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. Leading the way with 42 points, Brunson stole the show going head-to-head with De’Aron Fox. The Knicks came out on top with a final score of 98–91.

Studs: Jalen Brunson’s remarkable performance 

Jalen Brunson is having the best season of his career. Sixth in the NBA in points per game at 27.5, this level of progression from Brunson leaves no question of his standing on an All-NBA team. In the last five games, Brunson averages 30 points per game on 50% from the floor. Over back-to-back 40+ point outings, Brunson has displayed the best of his game from all three levels. 

In Knicks history, only four players have scored 40+ in back-to-back games: Bernard King, Patrick Ewing, Carmelo Anthony, and Jalen Brunson. Making history across the board this season, first-time All-Star Brunson has navigated the Knicks through a winning season with many injuries throughout the rotation. The duo of Brunson and Anunoby are 14-1 in games played together, looking to add to that against the Golden State Warriors

Studs: Hartenstein is back

The return of New York’s healthy rotation, piece by piece, has seen the return of Hartenstein without a minute’s restriction. Previously harboring left Achilles tendinopathy, a fully healthy Hartenstein is back to leading the frontline for the New York Knicks. In 27 minutes played against Sacramento, he scored seven points on 100% from the floor while adding 14 rebounds and four blocks.

When healthy, the front court of Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein will wreak havoc given what he’s shown in Robinson’s absence. The lockdown defense on the road against Sacramento is, in large part, due to Hartenstein’s effort. Over the past five games, New York has held their opponent to under 100 points, the longest streak by any team this season.

Studs: Burks and Bojan come up big in the 4th 

The stars aligned in Sacramento as this game was a hard-fought contest from start to finish. A stagnant New York offense, outside of Jalen Brunson, with a stubborn defense, held only a one-point lead entering the fourth. Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 21 of the Knick’s 22 bench points in a crucial road win. Bojan Bogdanovic hit a huge three igniting a flurry of offense to extend a lead for New York as he Burks and Brunson combined for 20 of New York’s 23 fourth-quarter points. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Kings

The defense from the New York Knicks has been the best across the NBA in March. The Sacramento Kings, with their full rotation, scored only 91 points in regulation. The return of OG Anunoby has catapulted New York to the heights seen before his injury.

Josh Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein’s efforts combining for 26 rebounds are examples of how the return of OG has elevated the rotation as they were being stretched thin defensively in his absence. The Knicks have two more games on this road trip against the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets.

The Knicks are currently two games back from the third seed in the Eastern Conference. A matchup nightmare for any team in the playoffs, New York is surging at the perfect time

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