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Knicks 109, Pacers 105: “Jalen Brunson, born to play basketball“

Statement Victory.

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Legitimate.

2.a : being exactly as intended or presented : neither spurious nor false

2.b : genuinely good, impressive, or capable of success

2.c : Jalen Brunson.

The New York Knicks kept doing their thing on Thursday, which always meant playing basketball games but these days also entails winning matchups no matter the opposition.

Last prey? The Pacers, who came to MSG on Thursday to take a 15-point lead against the Knicks before halftime... only to play eight-on-five during the final minutes of the game and come out sore losers thanks to a wounded-never-killed Brunson that embodied the whole Knicks organization.

New York 109, Indy 105. Nine dubs in a row for Thibs’ boys.

I thought this game and this recap would be easier to write about, but as I’m typing this I’m realizing it’s exactly the opposite to it. The reason—or better said, reasons—is that most of the time there is just one, maybe two main storylines going on worth pouring a few thoughts all over. This time, there are millions of them, all crammed in some six-hour span.

Thursday brought good and bad news, it brought another game and another win, and it brought tears of happiness and violence.

We came to discover that Julius Randle has seemingly avoided (for now, at least) undergoing surgery to fix his dislocated shoulder and that he will be re-evaluated after the break aiming at returning at some point between March and April.

We came to know the final All-Star rosters pending replacements, comprising a 24-man contingent in which not one but two Knickerbockers found their names listed: three-timer Randle and first-ever All-Star player Jalen Brunson.

We learned about OG Anunoby’s absence for the third consecutive game as the Knicks don’t want to risk it with the former Raptors biscuit, and also about Quentin Grimes missing his first game in more than a month (last time, Dec. 30) with a sprained knee.

And most importantly, at the end of the day, we went to bed knowing that there was simply no stopping this dude Brunson. Poke him in the eye, smack him in the face, diss him, bring the 1A/1B/1F disrespect—whatever you do, it will be to no avail.

Why? Because Jalen Marquis Brunson, son of a Rick, was born to play basketball.

Shivers.

It wasn’t just 40 points. It wasn’t just 30 shots. It wasn’t just 15 made field goals. It wasn’t just five rebounds, one dime, all of it in 37 minutes of play. It was beating the odds. It was believing. Hell, it was working, working, working. Fighting. Confidence. A relentless pursuit of greatness.

And just in case there was any doubt, it’s fair to say now and there’s no arguing claiming that Brunson is Legitimate.

And so is Julius Randle, for the silly doubters, haters, and naysayers. Three-time All-Star—doesn’t get much better than that.

The real All-Star in New York these days, however, is simply the Knicks. The Knicks, as a team. The Knicks, as the team that came back from 15 points down on Thursday, destroyed Indiana after they thought they were getting away with the W, and did so by putting just eight bodies on the court between starters and reserves.

Remove Evil Donte, who logged seven measly minutes, and you get a freaking seven-man rotation led by Coach Tom Thibodeau from the sidelines and five starters getting 36 minutes of playing time without ever stopping trying and going for that dub. Deuce McBride bagging 16 points off the pine in 29 minutes of playing time. Jericho Sims swatting three shots and pulling down four boards—all of them offensive—in just 13 minutes. On and on it goes.

And the starters, oh boy, the starters.

Brunson dropped 40, DiVincenzo halved that to go home with 20 pops, the big boys dumped 12 points apiece on Indy’s collective forehead. Most damaging? Their combined 35 (!!!) rebounds, 16 for Precious Achiuwa and 19 on Isaiah Hartenstein’s column.

Josh Hart, in a very Hartian way, scored only five points (0-for-6 from the field, LOL) but still navigated his way to grabbing 12 rim-ricocheted shots while dissing out three dimes and blocking a shot. A sight to behold.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a quick summary of where things stand entering the weekend and facing a visit from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Boston is (only for now) the no. 1 seed in the East. Milwaukee (still, somehow) has the no. 2 seed. Your New York Knicks are currently the no. 3 team in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Bucks at 32 wins apiece and only trailing them by half a game with one more loss through Thursday.

No team in the Association has won more than five consecutive games—the Knicks have won nine in a row and they can make it 10 straight as soon as tomorrow against the GOAT, of all men, inside the Mecca, of all places.

Legitimately, tis a season for the ages.