New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson scored 30 points in 39 minutes to help key Wednesday’s overtime road victory against the Chicago Bulls.
Not bad for someone who couldn’t practice the day before the game and had been in a walking boot one day before that following a right foot contusion in the Knicks’ previous contest.
“I don’t want to give anyone the notion that I’m healthy, but I just didn’t want to take today off,” Brunson said. “Me as a leader, if I’m able to walk and I’m able to play, I’ve got to bring it.”
Brunson and the Knicks will aim to keep doing just that on Friday, as they meet the host Bulls again while seeking their sixth straight victory.
Julius Randle paced New York with a double-double of 31 points and 13 rebounds in the first leg of the back-to-back with the Bulls. It was Randle’s third 30-point game in the past four as he continues to form an effective one-two punch with Brunson.
A two-time Illinois high school player of the year who starred at Stevenson in north suburban Chicago, Brunson navigated the pain to produce his fourth 30-point game of the season while adding seven assists.
“It says a lot about him. It’s everything,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Coming in, (getting) multiple treatments every day. That becomes his game, it becomes his practice. He’s been through so many different things. He has a strategy for everything. He just gets out there and gets it done.”
Chicago lost for the second straight game and the fifth time in its past seven. The Bulls rallied from a 14-point, first-half deficit to force overtime but couldn’t keep a three-game home winning streak intact.
The Bulls fell to 0-3 in overtime games this season, with two of those defeats coming in consecutive contests.
Chicago finished 1-for-7 from the field in OT en route to losing by eight points.
“It’s disappointing. We’re competitive guys. We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t,” Chicago guard Alex Caruso said. “Nobody likes losing. Anytime you don’t get the job done, no matter if it’s Game 1 or Game 82, you’re a little disappointed and a little hurt.”
The Bulls produced five double-figure scorers while shooting 54.8 percent from the floor. Usual suspects DeMar DeRozan (32 points) and Zach LaVine (25) offered the scoring punch, and Nikola Vucevic contributed 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Still, the Bulls faltered down the stretch, falling to an NBA-low 3-11 in games within five points with five minutes or less remaining in regulation.
Chicago’s Patrick Williams feels the Bulls can learn from these shortcomings, but only if they’re willing to put in the work.
“It only pays off if you make it pay off,” Williams said. “That’s how I view it. That’s how we all view it. It’s not just gonna pay off because we want to. We have to look at the film and get better at the things that we see in the game that are causing us to lose these games.”
–Field Level Media