Jalen Brunson battles by means of foot damage to steer Knicks over Pacers in Game 2

Things were looking bleak for the New York Knicks when Jalen Brunson, their MVP all season, didn’t play the entire second quarter due to injury. 

But when Brunson returned in the second half, the Knicks returned to form to defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 2, 130-121, to take a two-game lead in their second round series in the NBA Playoffs

New York battled back from 10 points down at halftime thanks to Brunson’s efforts. He led the Knicks once again in the points department, though he wasn’t able to make it five straight postseason contests with 40 or more points. 


Jalen Brunson celebrates

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson (11) gestures after making a 3-point shot against the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Game 2 in an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Brunson finished with 29 on 11-of-18 shooting, including 3-of-6 from three-point territory, while dishing five assists and tallying three steals. 

“I’m just happy I did, to be honest with you. We found a way,” Brunson said after the game to TNT about returning to the game. 

When Brunson went out, Madison Square Garden couldn’t figure out why and it led the raucous Knicks faithful to murmur. It was then where the Pacers started to change the tune of the game, outscoring the Knicks with fastbreak buckets and wide open three-pointers. They won the second quarter in the box score, 37-27, to score 73 first-half points. 


Tyrese Haliburton was a key factor in the Pacers’ charge, as he had a much better game offensively than Game 1, where he had just six points with six total shots. Haliburton finished with a game-high 34 points with seven three-pointers made, including five in the first half. 

But MSG erupted when Brunson came out with a few minutes left in halftime to warm up, and after testing that foot, he told head coach Tom Thibodeau he was ready to get back in there. 

Obi Toppin and TJ McConnell

Obi Toppin #1 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the game against the New York Knicks during Round 2 Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2024 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Knicks would end up destroying the Pacers in the third quarter, 36-18, to retake the lead heading into the fourth. 

And while the Pacers were relentless, Brunson and the Knicks continued to do what they do best: get the ball in the hands of their star point guard, grab offensive rebounds and close out big games. 

Now, while Brunson did return, the Knicks didn’t leave this game without some bad injury news. 

OG Anunoby, who had 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting, was sprinting up the court for a chance at a fastbreak bucket when he came up limping near the basket. The Knicks ruled him out the rest of the game with a sore left hamstring, and they’ll certainly hope it won’t persist into Friday’s Game 3 matchup on the road. 

The Knicks were already without Mitchell Robinson, who found out he re-injured the ankle that kept him out 50 games in the regular season. He’s likely going to miss the rest of the playoffs. 

But as Thibodeau said ahead of the fourth quarter, the next man just has to step up. Donte DiVincenzo played his role with 28 points, shooting 10-of-20 with six made threes, while Isaiah Hartenstein collected 12 rebounds and 14 points. Josh Hart also led the way in the rebounding department with 15 while totaling 19 points himself. 

Jalen Brunson runs off

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson (11) runs on the court after scoring against the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Game 2 in an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


For the Pacers, Andrew Nembhard had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Obi Toppin led the way off the bench with 20 points against his former team. T.J. McConnell was also pestering Brunson when he returned in the second half on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, he had 10 points and a team-high 12 assists.

The series now heads to Indianapolis, where the Pacers have their backs up against the walls a bit down two games to none as the Knicks fought through injuries to take another game at home. 

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