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Jalen Brunson scores 40 points for the fourth straight game and the Knicks win

Jalen Brunson scores 40 points for the fourth straight game and the Knicks win

NEW YORK – Jalen Brunson’s historic scoring career moves forward while a new opponent feels his wrath.

Brunson had another great fourth quarter on Monday, as relentless basket attacks and clutch shooting led to 21 of his 43 points as the New York Knicks cruised to a 121-117 Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Reminiscent of his brilliance in the final game of the previous round against the Philadelphia 76ers, Brunson now has 40 points in four straight playoff games. In addition to his six assists, he became the first player in NBA history to have four consecutive 40-point and 5-assist games.

“Little things can go a long way,” Bronson said. “So, yeah, 40 points is nice and everything, but it’s the little things that help us win games like this. So I’m very happy that I have a group of players. I just know that we’re going to go fight every day, that’s all I think about.”

Brunson has scored or assisted on 321 points in his past five games, the second-most through five games in NBA postseason history. He trails only Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic from last season (329 over five playoff games).

The final assist in Game 1 was the biggest. Just as he did in the last two victories over the 76ers, Brunson took advantage of defenders rushing toward him to fire a laser at Donte DiVincenzo. His former Villanova teammate hit a 3-pointer to break a 115-115 tie with 40 seconds left and give the Knicks the win.

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DiVincenzo scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, hitting 8 of 10 shots.

But it was also a controversial moment. The Knicks held that possession after Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith was called for punting when he deflected Brunson’s pass on what looked like a steal and fast break opportunity for the Pacers.

The ball struck Nesmith’s hand, but his foot was also outstretched and the officials ruled that he had kicked the ball, resulting in a foul. The Pacers had a challenge available, but such plays are not reviewable.

After the game, the referees admitted they had missed the call.

“We felt on the ground that it would be a violation for the ball that was kicked. The postgame review showed it hit the defender’s hand, which would be legal,” crew chief Zach Zarba said in the pool report.

Then, with 12.7 seconds left and the Pacers down by one point with the ball, center Myles Turner was called for a moving screen on DiVincenzo while trying to free point guard Tyrese Haliburton. It was a close game and the Pacers challenged the call, but it was upheld upon review.

“We don’t expect to get calls here,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It would be nice if they laid this guy off, but they didn’t. So that’s the way it goes.”

Turner, who led the Pacers with 23 points in the loss, credited DiVincenzo with selling the foul. Like his coach, he too took the high road after the bitter defeat.

“From my experience in this league, I think it’s best for the players to decide the outcome of the game,” Turner said. “Most of the time, you can’t leave the game to be decided by the referees, so we have to take responsibility as well,” he added.

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The Pacers lamented putting Brunson on the line 14 times — he made them all — and allowing DiVincenzo and Josh Hart, who had 24 points, to be factors offensively. The Knicks shot 65% in the second half.

Hart played the full 48 minutes for the third time in the postseason, the most since Jimmy Butler did it five times in the 2013 playoffs.

Haliburton, who suffered from back spasms and was listed as questionable entering the game, scored just six points and made just one shot inside the 3-point line. Brunson dominated that star guard game to a degree that was difficult for the Pacers to overcome.

Brunson is averaging 12.4 points per game in the fourth quarter over the past five games. He made 6 of 10 shots and was 8 of 8 from the line down the stretch as he repeatedly made shots under pressure.

“You can keep going every night, and the thing I love about him is he cares about the team,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “All he cares about is winning, he cares about his teammates, and I think when that happens, he’s at the end of the day, ‘What do we need? Do we need a big bucket? Whatever we need, he’ll give it to us.'” “.