Studs and Duds: Knicks fall to Spurs despite Jalen Brunson’s historic performance

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket while defended by San Antonio Spurs guard Devin Vassell (24) during overtime at Frost Bank Center
Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

On the road to the playoffs, the New York Knicks came into this game with a 9-3 record in March. This matchup was another history-making occasion as the San Antonio Spurs hosted a surging New York Knicks. Rookie star Victor Wembanyama dropped 40 points and 20 rebounds, but New York saw a special performance as Jalen Brunson scored 61 points in the loss, a career-high and the second-most in franchise history. But ultimately, the Knicks fell short with a final score of 130–126 in overtime.

Studs: Jalen Brunson with the performance of his career

The bright lights are afraid of Jalen Brunson as, once again, he had an incredible performance attempting to carry the Knicks to a win. Brunson had 61 points and six assists with a 24-point third quarter. A 21-point and six-assist first half showed signs of a history-making night, and Brunson did not disappoint.

The performance of Brunson’s teammates on this occasion insisted on him being the ultimate engine on offense. San Antonio went into the half with a 17-point lead while getting as large as a 21-point lead in the second quarter. By the end of the third, Brunson had brought New York back within three. Yet, the MVP ladder dropped before games, and Brunson didn’t even make the top 10.

Meeting all requirements, while cultivating a reestablished winning culture within the New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson’s lack of recognition is a bode to the ‘art of attrition’, turning himself from undesirable to undeniable. There was outrage when he wasn’t voted as an All-Star starter, and Brunson handled it well in the media while raising his level of play on the floor.

Over the last ten games, Jalen Brunson has averaged 31 points per game while carrying New York to a 7-3 record this month. The Knicks lost this one not due to Brunson, as he etched himself in New York records with the second-highest scoring game in franchise history. 

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo makes Knicks franchise history 

Under the headlines of a 61-point night, there is the fine print on the tremendous efforts of Donte DiVincenzo. Playing 49 minutes, DiVincenzo scored 20 points with six threes made, eclipsing the New York Knicks Franchise record for threes made in a season. This record was previously owned by Evan Fournier, with 241 made in 2022, but DiVincenzo is looking to shatter that, sitting at 245 made threes with nine games remaining.

A regular season hardened by constant injuries throughout the rotation and trades to improve the roster saw Donte rise above expectations and carve a prominent role with more than his style of play.

The health and consistency from Donte have made a difference in the team record, and without DiVincenzo’s level of play this season New York wouldn’t be a top-four seed. Donte sits third in the NBA in three-pointers made, looking to add more history to a record-breaking season for the New York Knicks.

Studs: Mitchell Robinson is back

Mitchell Robinson posted seven points and 12 rebounds in his second game back from injury. Shooting 33% from the floor, the way Robinson crashed the glass was most impressive against the 7-foot-4 Victor Wembanyama.

A controversial call in overtime saw Robinson called for a violation in a jump ball against the Spurs big man. This call became even more interesting when the Knicks won the jump ball. Robinson took to Twitter, “I’ll [accept] not playing to my full ability and I won’t make no excuses we shall meet again but my god this was crazy.”

An unfortunate loss for the Knicks, but the return of Robinson looking in peak performance raises the floor of the Knicks tremendously. His matchup with a 7-foot-4 unicorn like Wembanyama was a great test of strength for Robinson’s motor, but with a dominant performance from the rookie, this showdown will be a spectacle next season. 

Duds: Poor energy on the Road

Playing to a championship pedigree as of late, the Knicks got blitzed by an inexperienced Spurs team. Allowing six Spurs players in double figures and giving up 130 points, New York took the night off defensively in this one. No team has scored 130+ points against New York since their December 30th meeting against the Indiana Pacers.

Sustainability on defense is as mental as it is physical, and without the best on the floor, OG Anunoby, nights like these can be occurrences. When this happened earlier in the season, the issue became comfortability as New York became stagnant, trading wins and losses while not executing fully on defense in Anunoby’s absence.

His impact defensively is contagious and raises the senses of the whole rotation to meet his level of intensity. With a tough stretch of games ahead, word on Anunoby’s return to the lineup will make headlines as sustainability is the focus going into the playoffs. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ loss to the Spurs

A showdown in San Antonio made for a history-making occasion. The New York Knicks had hold of the third seed before this contest, and looking ahead the next three games are against teams above .500.

With exciting matchups ahead yet not too calm of waters for New York. Two games back of the second seed and two games ahead of the fifth seed, there is no room for lack of defense against such talented opponents on the way. 

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