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Amid historic playoff scoring run, Jalen Brunson prioritizes Knicks wins over individual accolades

Jalen Brunson knows his name doesn’t belong next to the all-time greats.

At least not yet.

Brunson joined historic company in the Knicks’ Game 1 second-round playoff victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

The first-time All-Star guard joined Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to record five straight playoff games with at least 30 points and five assists.

He also joined Jordan, Jerry West and Knicks great Bernard King as the only players to ever score 40 points in four straight playoff games with his 43-point barrage in Game 1.

Brunson, however, deflected praise from his friend and teammate Donte DiVincenzo at the podium after Monday’s victory.

“If you know my friends,” he said before taking a long pause after practice at the Knicks’ Tarrytown training facility on Tuesday, “you should know that they’re all assholes first of all.

“When they say — the one thing Donte said last night, which was actually really cool, it actually sounded genuine. But usually, they’re all sarcastic and so I just try to stop him before he kept going.”

Brunson said while his scoring performance belongs alongside Jordan’s in the record books, his name doesn’t yet belong in conversations with the Chicago Bulls legend widely regarded as the best player in NBA history.

“I don’t really worry about it,” he said when asked if he’s taking his own record-setting run for granted. “I think I understand what’s going on, so it’s definitely obviously pretty cool, and it makes it better to know that it comes off a win most importantly, but honestly no matter what the situation was, whether it was positive or negative, I have to come back and be better. Last series, the first two games I was awful, and for me, I do have to be better. So I had to put that in the back of my mind.

“This is the same thing. Obviously the stat you just said, but I need to put it in the back of my mind and be better the next day. So positive or negative, understand what’s going on and move forward.”

Brunson averaged 28.7 points per game during the regular season and increased his scoring to 35.5 points per game in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

He leads all playoffs scorers with 256 total points scored through seven postseason appearances.

“I never take him for granted because of what he’s doing, but like I said, the thing that’s impressive: It’s always within the context of winning and his teammates, and that’s always the most important thing to him,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday’s practice. “And I love his mentality, because his mentality is that he’s not satisfied and that it’s great for everyone else to talk about [the records he’s setting].”

Thibodeau reiterated a stance Brunson’s taken in one of the best individual and team seasons of any Knicks player.

“He always says it: When he’s done playing, he’ll look back and feel proud about whatever he’s accomplished and I love that mentality and that approach,” Thibodeau said.” I think that’s what makes him who he is, and right now, this is what we need for us to win.”


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