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Scenes from Jalen Brunson willing a win against the Wiz

Knicks 113, Wizards 109: In another unattractive win, Jalen Brunson plays through pain to score 41 points and spoil Marvin Bagley, III’s Washington debut.

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In another gnarly game, the New York Knicks (25-17) defeated the Washington Wizards (7-33) tonight at Madison Square Garden, 113-109. With the win, the Knicks swept the season series with Washington for the first time since the 2020-21 campaign.

It didn’t come easly, though—in fact, New York required a 41-point, superhero performance from a banged up Jalen Brunson in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Overall, Isaiah Hartenstein added 17 rebounds, Donte DiVincenzo made five of 12 three-point attempts, and the Knicks managed to overcome their 19 turnovers and eek out the win, 113-109.

First Half

The Zards were playing without Daniel Gafford, which meant Marvin Bagley, III—just traded to Washington from Detroit—got to fill in at center. Could the deck be any more stacked in New York’s favor? In Q1, Washington made two of their first nine field goal attempts, and New York stepped out to a 10-point lead. Winning this one looked like a breeeeze.

After their last meeting, Deni Avdija made a mildly spicy statement about Julius Randle (“For me, he’s not that tough to guard”). Perhaps that motivated Julius to rack up 12 points in his first 12 minutes tonight. Unfortunately, it didn’t inspire Julius to tighten up his own defense.

Turnovers continue to bedevil the Knicks. They coughed up the ball five times in the first quarter, their shooting went frosty, and the Wiz caught up on an 8-0 run. The game was tied 22-22 by quarter’s end.

With Josh Hart out nursing knee soreness, Evan Fournier checked in late in the quarter. He got a nice cheer from the crowd. These were the highlights, folks.

Evan shot 0-of-4.

The poor shooting of the first quarter carried into the second. The Wizards missed their first 10 three-pointers tonight, which is gross; equally gross was the Knicks making only two of their first 16 three-pointers (they missed 12 straight). The Knicks made one basket in four minutes and let the league’s 25th-rated offense go ahead by six points with five minutes left. Finally, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo sank their first triples of the eve. The lead see-sawed, but the Knicks escaped the half up, 46-45.

In the half, the Knicks’ bench managed only five points, surely convincing Leon Rose of their need for a bench scorer (someone whose name rhymes with Balec Shmurks, perhaps?). The teams had combined to shoot 7-of-36 from deep (19%). This was hard on the eyes. Here’s something hard on the ears:

Second Half

After inermission, the Knicks shot 4-of-7 from downtown, including three from OG Anunoby. He had 13 points in the quarter after scoring only four in the first half. New York inched ahead by nine again, but Bagley and Kyle Kuzma went on an 8-0 spree and seized the lead. The Knicks bench scored zero points in the third frame. New York was lucky to recover and finish the quarter up 73-72.

This was an interesting moment in Q3. Evidently the alarmed looking fella on the bench is the keeper of the Coach’s Challenge:

To start the fourth, Donte DiVincenzo hit back-to-back threes (his fourth and fifth) to give the Knicks a quick seven point lead. Doing a bit of everything, DiVo added a block on a subsequent sequence. His effort was essential to keeping the Knicks in the black, because most of his teammates were riding a magic carpet buoyed by farts. With half a quarter remaining, New York was still only up by one point.

Brunson twisted his right ankle, but played on, scoring eleven-straight points for the Knicks. Jalen would come down hard on the ankle again, then jam the other ankle, and get bench treatment on the left calf which caused him to miss two recent games. If this basketball thing doesn’t work out, Jalen could give MMA a go. He finished with 41 points.

Thanks to Jalen, DiVo, and Julius, the Knicks went up by nine with under two minutes left. The city finally released a breath of relief for the game seemed at hand. But wait! Bagley kept clawing and woud finish his Washington debut with 20 points. Julius Randle, who had shot poorly from deep tonight, laced a triple to keep the visitors at bay—but then committed a loose ball foul that resulted in two Jordan Poole freebies. The Zards were within three points when Anunoby iced the game at the foul line.

Sheesh, that was too close.

Up Next

Get the brooms, it’s a sweep! Sam Stein has a proper recap bubbling on the burner. As for the Knicks, the Toronto Raptors come in on Saturday.

Box score.