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MX News Update 2024

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NBA Playoffs: Jalen Brunson, after early injury scare, leads Knicks past Pacers to win Game 2

Jalen Brunson went down briefly in the first half on Wednesday evening with a foot injury.
Jalen Brunson went down briefly in the first half on Wednesday evening with a foot injury. (Elsa/Getty images)

The Indiana Pacers looked poised to tie the series on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Then Jalen Brunson returned.

Brunson, after being rocked with an injury early, came back and led the Knicks to an important 130-121 victory over the Pacers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. That gave the Knicks a 2-0 lead in the series heading to Indianapolis.

“I’m just glad I (came back), to be honest,” Brunson told TNT. ‘We found a way. That’s all.’

The Pacers made a 17-point swing in the first half after the Knicks lost Brunson in the opening minutes, almost resulting in a perfect opportunity to steal a game on the road.

Brunson appeared to twist his right foot while on defense late in the first quarter. He took an awkward step as he entered the court, immediately calling for a sub after the Pacers scored.

Brunson left the game after just eight minutes and went back to the locker room. His father, Knicks assistant coach Rick Brunson, left the bench in the second quarter and also returned to the locker room, though the team did not provide an update for quite some time. Finally, midway through the second quarter, the Knicks said Brunson was dealing with a sore right foot. He was initially questionable to return, but came back to start the second half to a huge standing ovation in Manhattan.

The Knicks were up by seven points when Brunson left the court, although they went into halftime trailing by 10 points – marking a huge 17-point swing for the Pacers. Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton had 22 points in the first half while shooting 7-for-12 from the field, doubling his shot attempts from Game 1.

Brunson’s return seemed to make the difference for the Knicks. In the second half they took the lead almost immediately and came out of the starting gate after being 21-6 behind. The Knicks held Indiana to just 18 points in the third quarter, 10 of which came in the final four minutes, and took an eight-point lead into the final period – completely turning the game around after halftime.

However, the Knicks lost OG Anunoby to a leg injury in the third quarter after he stopped awkwardly while driving to the rim. He was quickly ruled out due to a left hamstring injury, finishing with 28 points and shooting 10 of 19 from the field. It is unclear how serious his injury is and whether he will be available for Game 3 on Friday night.

Although the Pacers opened the fourth quarter with a quick 6-0 burst, Brunson responded with a huge and-one layup to keep them ahead on multiple possessions.

The Knicks then used a 7-0 run, stopping a Donte DiVincenzo three-pointer and then a perfect dump from him to Precious Achiuwa to finally put the Pacers away late in the period. This allowed them to roll to a nine-point victory, giving them a two-game lead in the series.

Haliburton led the Pacers with 34 points, nine assists and six rebounds while shooting 7-for-11 from behind the arc. Andrew Nembhard added 15 points and Pascal Siakam finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was also ejected in the final minute after arguing with officials over a double dribble that felt like frustration was boiling over.

Brunson finished with 29 points, all but five of which came in the second half, and five assists while shooting 11 of 18 from the field. DiVincenzo added 28 points and Josh Hart dropped 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Game 3 of the series is set for Friday night in Indianapolis. While there are many questions about the Knicks’ health, both with Brunson and Anunoby, the Knicks are in an incredible position to make their first Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000.