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Knicks Bulletin: Brunson and Thibodeau fail to adjust in LeBron’s MSG return

Straight Outta Sources.

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Knicks failed to clinch their 10th consecutive win on Saturday falling 113-105 to the suddenly hot Los Angeles Lakers and the returning duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both ruled out for the game against the Celtics last Thursday.

James, who recently hit the rumor mill as a potential traded player by the Lakers, arrived in MSG with one and only one thing in mind: beating the Knicks at his (and their) favorite arena across the NBA landscape—which is what the GOAT did.

Here is everything the protagonists of the affair said before and after such an extraordinary event.

Tom Thibodeau

On what the Knicks missed to pull off the win against the Lakers...

“Shot-blocking was a factor. [Anthony Davis] played a great game without having a lot of points, LeBron, the same. Those guys read the game. LeBron played 41 minutes. Credit to him, he’s in that type of shape. Davis is a load to deal with.”

“We didn’t make enough plays on both sides of the ball. Give them credit.”

“Start of the fourth, we’re up six. There was a big turnover, we gave up a 3 in transition, they got momentum, and it turned the game right there.”

On ever-evolving, 39-year-old LeBron James coming to MSG on Saturday...

“To do it the way he’s done it, for that long, is a testament to the commitment he’s made. It’s really remarkable the way he’s taken care of himself and he always adds to his game.”

“He’s like a pitcher who adds a different pitch, he changes speeds, has a great understanding of the game, the way he reads the game. He’s had an incredible career.”

On LeBron James’ 21-year (and counting) career soon coming to an end...

“The greatness of our league, when you think about it—and I’ve been around for a while—each era is a little different and you always hate to see when a great player retires. You want him to play forever. I have a great appreciation for what he’s accomplished.”

“But there’s always new guys coming along. The young guys coming into the league, they’re remarkable, too. So the pipeline is full. They’re coming from everywhere, all over the world. Everyone steals from everyone. So each generation seems to get better and better—the skill level.”

On LeBron and how he planned to stop him on Saturday...

“I think with LeBron, it’s his skill set, size, power, speed, and then his ability to push the ball, attack before the defense sets, make plays, beat you with the pass, beat you off the dribble, beat you with his shot.”

“It takes your whole team to be working together. You over help, he’s gonna make you pay. You’re gonna have to be disciplined and the size is a big factor because he can see over people and his decision-making is unbelievable. He’s done it for a long time so it’ll be a great test for us.”

Jalen Brunson

On the Los Angeles Lakers defense and their constant double-team efforts on Saturday...

“They were just sending two defenders whenever there was any action that was happening.”

“I was either trying to get around it or just hitting the roll man to make the play, relocating and finding a way to still be impactful.”

On his overall feelings about the loss against the Lakers...

“I think we made good plays throughout the game, just not enough.”

On LeBron James’ career and respecting him just enough...

“The things he’s been able to do, it’s been nothing short of spectacular, nothing sort of remarkable. Everything he’s done has been legendary. And I respect the hell out of him. But when we go out on the court, we’re gonna have to compete, and you can’t just look at it and thinking he’s this idol—which he is—but we gotta go out there and just compete against the Lakers.”

“I feel like once you get on the court, you’re gonna have to compete. You can acknowledge, you can respect the legacy and what they’ve done throughout their career, but once the ball is in the air, you just have to go out there and compete.”

On how the current run of results has affected the team...

“Doesn’t change our thinking at all, and it won’t.”

“I know where we are, and we have to have the same mindset every single night. We need to go out there and be better than we were the day before. And so no matter where we are in the standings, no matter how many we’ve won in a row, my mindset is to be better every single time we’re on that court.”

“No record, no standing, no accolades are going to make us think differently.”

On if he considers himself the best Knicks point guard since Clay Frazier...

“No. Just no. No. No.”

“I always say ‘hi’ to him whenever I walk past him on the bus or on the court because he’s a legend. I always check in with him [but] I haven’t talked about the things that he was able to accomplish. Just because we just haven’t had the time to sit down. But it’s always a respect.”

“To be able to see him every day just knowing the presence he brings around this organization, you have to respect him and you have to understand the things that he did as a player are remarkable.”

On who has reached out to and congratulated him after getting named an All-Star player...

“No one out of the ordinary, just a lot of friends and family.

On Isaiah Hartenstein's level of play since becoming a starter in Mitchell Robinson’s absence...

“He’s playing great. Outside of this organization, there was a question mark on ‘Would he be able to do this?’ All of us believed in him inside this organization—the team, the coaching staff, everything we knew he was capable of, and he’s been performing.

“He’s been playing well. He’s been just locked in every single night, doing the dirty work and just playing his style of basketball, which has been fantastic. So we knew he was capable of this.”

On OG Anunoby’s defensive chops...

“The dude’s just a freak of nature.”

“That’s the OG we saw when we were playing against him. Now he’s just doing it in a Knick uniform.”

Josh Hart

On a foul call after pushing LeBron James in the zone...

“There’s no way you could see that unless you have X-ray vision. I’m going to stand here and say I pushed him, and it was a great call. But I’m just saying, you couldn’t see that.”


“Everyone is in the NBA for a reason. So whenever your name is called, you gotta be ready, and I think we’re doing a really good job at that,” “We can’t be satisfied with the success and the priorities that we’re doing, but everyone is ready, and when you stay ready, you don’t gotta get ready. So I think we’re all doing that, and obviously when those guys get back, that’s just added depth, added confidence all around.”

Isaiah Hartenstein

On Jalen Brunson’s play and his leading of the Knicks...

“Just seeing the work that he puts in. The pride he takes in winning and playing for New York, for him to now get acknowledged for the work he’s been putting in, it’s been great. He’s a great leader, and I think he’s been one of the main people while we’ve been on this winning streak, so I’m just happy for him. Excited for him.”

On having a breakout season on a contract year and his future at or away from New York...

“It’s great timing. I can’t lie about that.”

“At the end of the day, I love it here in New York, so the plan would be to stay. But at the end of the day you can’t predict what’s going to happen, so you just have to go game by game. I love New York. I love the fans. I think it’s something special. And I love winning. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Miles McBride

On his opportunity to get more playing time and a more prominent role after the Knicks traded Immanuel Quickley away...

“I think (the challenge) is not being frustrated in the role. You have to star in your role, and whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do. If it’s making shots, it means making shots. If it’s getting stops, getting a stop.”

”I think just continuing to grow as a player is really important. You can’t take great steps and get ahead of yourself. You just have to trust the journey.”

Darvin Ham (Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach)

On facing the Knicks with or without defensive stalwart OG Anunoby...

“[Anunoby] is one of many [lockdown defenders on the Knicks roster]—Donte [DiVincenzo], Josh [Hart], those guys are scrappy. Miles [McBride]. They have a scrappy ball club.”

“They’re second in the league in taking charges. Their activity level off the ball is at an elite level. Nine wins in a row. That’s a big part of why they’re winning the way they are.”

”Having [OG] out, you’ve gotta be ready for the next thing. Knowing Tom, he’s got a lot left to throw at you.”

LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers Player)

On the Knicks having a winning season and facing them while they are at their best...

“It’s great when the Knicks are winning and you get to come in here and play competitive basketball at the highest level, where every possession means something, especially in the fourth quarter. And to be able to make some plays in the fourth quarter to turn some tides. It’s something that feels great.”

On Jalen Brunson’s season and his first-ever All-Star nod...

“Jalen’s phenomenal. He’s phenomenal. Super happy for him, super proud of him. You know, first-time All-Star, seeing his emotion after the last game, I think that’s super cool, super dope.”

On playing against Brunson’s father Rick and now against against Jalen...

“I played against Rick [Brunson] as well, so kind of weird in that sense. Rick is a super down-to-earth guy as well and he’s raised an unbelievable son, so that’s awesome. His whole family—not just Rick obviously. But it’s super cool.”

On cherishing playing inside Madison Square Garden, perhaps for the final time in his career...

“It’s the Mecca of basketball, one of the most prestigious arenas to play in in the history of sports. For me to be able to grace that floor throughout my career has always been a treat.”

“At this point in my career, for sure. I’ll probably get an opportunity to be in the lineup and play here (he said before Saturday’s game), especially at the latter stage of my career, I definitely don’t take it for granted. For me to be able to grace that floor throughout my career has always been a treat.”

On thinking about joining the New York Knicks at some point...

“During my free agency period in 2010, it was one of the teams that I looked at, so I’ve had that thought in my career.”

On facing the best Knicks team he’s ever gone against...

“Melo was here doing what Melo does, and they had that good team support around him, they were winning ballgames. It’s not the first time. I’ve been around for two decades. I’ve seen this arena buzz and the team play well.”

On his supernatural shape and never running out of energy even as he approaches 40 years old...

“Physically? I mean, I’ve been better. But I’ve been a lot worse. Hoping to be able to go out and contribute tonight, help our team win the ball game, obviously.”