Studs and Duds: Knicks fueled by Jalen Brunson’s historic night en route to dominant victory

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives on Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen (8) in the second half at Footprint Center
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

A performance for the ages saw the New York Knicks take down the star-studded Phoenix Suns in the second leg of a tough five-game road trip. Jalen Brunson went for 50 points in one of the single-most dominant showings in recent NBA History. With the 139-122 win over the Suns, the Knicks are now 14-10, looking to build momentum ahead of a face-off with the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Studs: Jalen Brunson drops 50

Jalen Brunson turned in a Herculean effort on the road against the Suns who were 4.5-point favorites coming into the game — but that didn’t matter to Brunson. Scoring 15 in the first half seemed modest, but it was an indescribable 12-12 from the floor for 35 points in the second half that sketched Brunson’s name in the history books. Brunson became the first player since Michael Jordan to score 50+ Points, 9+ Assists, 5+ Rebounds, and 5+ Steals in a single game.

Along with this incredible feat, Brunson became the only player to record 30+ points on perfect FG% in a single half. Devin Booker and Kevin Durant combined for only nine points in the fourth quarter compared to Brunson scoring an incredible 16 points on 5/5 shooting from downtown.

Studs: The rest of the Big Three also performed well

Outside of the obvious, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett also had great outings, combining for 61% from the floor and executing stellar defense when called to. The Knicks as a team have a history in this Thibodeau era of running more iso-heavy offense, but that’s been confirmed to be more about the personnel and maturity on the roster.

New York had 28 assists in the evening, creating easier opportunities for Barrett and Randle to thrive and pick up their win for the first time in five years at Phoenix. The Knicks’ big three of Brunson, Randle, and Barrett must build on this momentum of all playing proficiently and grow to formidable sustainability. 

Duds: Not many, but the Knicks defense could execute better

The incredible performances from New York’s best players indicate no “duds” per se, but the Knicks’ defense must be highlighted, as the Suns shot a 39% clip from three.

Brunson won’t be dropping 50-point games on 100% from the floor every night, and getting complacent with defensive woes will hinder the Knicks in the long run. An incredible showing in the fourth does indicate the Knicks have the ability; it’s just about executing to keep New York in the right conversations. 

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What’s next for the Knicks?

Ahead, there are a couple of star-studded matchups in California to test the New York Knicks. Both the Clippers and Lakers have big names, but seeing how things formulated in Phoenix, the best has yet to come from New York. A big-time win against either one or both teams is possible, and the Knicks have the pieces to get it done.

A historic performance from Jalen Brunson puts the Knicks back right where they need to be, and following that meltdown against the Utah Jazz, the only thing left is to string together convincing performances. The Knicks in ‘winning conversations’ are on the horizon.