Home News Knicks’ Jalen Brunson vows to ‘be better’ after off shooting night in...

Knicks’ Jalen Brunson vows to ‘be better’ after off shooting night in Game 1

After the Knicks narrowly escaped in a 111-104 victory in Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, Jalen Brunson — who didn’t shoot well against a smothering Sixers defense — said he needs to be better.

Brunson shot 8-of-26 from the field and one-of-six from three-point range for 22 points in 41 minutes of play in the postseason opener at Madison Square Garden. He turned the ball over five times on the night and posted a minus-three net rating.

“It was great defense, and they had a great game plan,” the All-Star guard said after the game. “I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and be better.”

The 76ers used a variety of defenders to stifle Brunson, who only averaged 22.3 points through four regular season games against Philadelphia this season, his fourth-lowest scoring average against any team this season.

“It wasn’t like we were blitzing him and sending two and trapping him and taking the ball out of his hands,” said Sixers head coach Nick Nurse after the game. “We were sitting in our zone for a lot of it but our zone shifts towards, you know, you obviously are trying to guard certain guys, right, and give them credit.

“I mean, I think we’re probably OK with some of those shots, but they just, they hit them and give them credit for stepping into them and hitting them.”

The Sixers used longer wings in Kelly Oubre Jr., Nic Batum and Tobias Harris to make shots difficult on the 6-2 Brunson. Philly’s All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey also frequently contested Brunson’s shots from behind.

“I think I had spurts where I was good. Five turnovers, obviously missed a lot of shots,” Brunson conceded postgame. “Maxey got to a lot of shots where he blocked it. So you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. For the most part, they did a really good job, and then we found ways to make some key plays at the end to give us the lead, but they did a really good job.”

Brunson said he put the bad plays out of his head quickly.

“I think the one thing I kept doing: I just kept turning the page, turning the page, knowing that things would be better,” he said. “I have to have short-term memory when things like that happen. Honestly, you’ve just got to give them a lot of credit.”

Luckily for the Knicks, Brunson got some help: 22 points and four made threes from Josh Hart, 42 points off the bench led by 21 from Deuce McBride and 13 from Bojan Bogdanovic, and some key plays on both ends from Mitchell Robinson helped the Knicks take a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs with Game 2 back at The Garden on Monday.

“It’s definitely encouraging when your main guy — we’ve been on his shoulders all season. And when he struggled that’s when we had to pick up,” Hart said postgame. “And talk about the next man up mentality. Our bench was amazing today. I think Deuce was a plus-37, Bogie [Bogdanovic] was a plus-27. Mitch was a +20. They were the reason we won the game.

“So when your top dog is not shooting well, you need other guys to pick it up for him and that’s what we did.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here