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Brunson to bask in record G4 effort ‘when I retire’



PHILADELPHIA — Fresh off setting multiple New York Knicks franchise playoff records, and powering his team to a thrilling 97-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of their first-round series behind a scintillating 47-point, 10-assist performance, Jalen Brunson was asked if his accomplishments are something he’ll bask in now, or save for later.

“I’ll look back when I retire,” Brunson said. “Seriously. It’s great right now, it helped us get a win.

“But, it’s not going to do anything for us going forward.”

Knicks fans, however, will be doing plenty of basking — particularly the thousands of them that traveled down Interstate 95 to invade Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon, where they watched Brunson put up his latest incredible performance in a season full of them to give New York a 3-1 advantage in this best-of-7 affair.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where New York will try to advance to the second round and face either the Milwaukee Bucks or Indiana Pacers.

“One at a time,” Joel Embiid, who finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists but shot 7-for-19 overall and missed all 5 shots he took in the fourth quarter, said afterward when asked what his mindset was as his team faces elimination. “We know we’re good enough. Tonight, we didn’t make shots, so we just got to keep trusting ourselves.

“We got no pressure. We’re the 7-seed down 3-1, a lot of guys are hurt … I don’t know why we would feel the pressure. So we should just go out there and go out and play our best basketball and one at a time. Win one, come back home, win another one, and then Game 7 over there. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Yeah. No pressure.”

Embiid might say the 76ers are feeling no pressure, but they were under pressure from Brunson for every second the Knicks star was on the court Sunday afternoon, as he sliced through their defense with a truly historic performance, finishing the game with 47 points on 18-for-34 shooting, to go along with 4 rebounds, 10 assists and just a single turnover in over 43 minutes.

The star guard broke New York’s franchise playoff record with those 47 points, and became the first player in Knicks history to have at least 40 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. He became the third player, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, to have at least 45 points, 10 assists and one or fewer turnovers in a playoff game, joining Damian Lillard and Kevin Johnson, and joins Trae Young as the only players in NBA history to create at least 70 points in consecutive playoff games.

All of it was a remarkable turnaround from the opening two games of the series, when Brunson combined to shoot 16-for-55 from the field.

“Jalen’s a great player,” said OG Anunoby, who played stellar defense on Embiid down the stretch with starting center Isaiah Hartenstein on the bench in foul trouble. “You come to expect it. You expect him to make every shot. He’s a great player. Even when he was cold the first couple of games, you knew he was going to turn it around. Just cause we see him every day.

“It was going to turn around eventually.”

And every time Brunson did miss a shot, it felt like the Knicks were right there to scoop up the miss, as New York — which already won Game 1 of this series by dominating the offensive glass — did so again in this one, grabbing 15 offensive boards that led to a 21-8 edge in second-chance points in a game Philadelphia lost by 5.

That advantage was especially telling in the fourth quarter, when New York grabbed 7 of those 15 offensive rebounds, had an 11-2 edge in second-chance points and forced Philadelphia into 11 consecutive misses over the final five minutes of Sunday’s game to close out the victory.

“I think we learned that throughout the course of the season,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, when asked what allows his team to succeed late in games. “Jalen has played at such an incredible high level all season long, and we can play off that.

“We have a little bit of everything. And the rebounding has been terrific. Everyone questioned the rebounding with Josh at the power forward. We’ve been the best rebounding team all year. Everyone questioned Jalen being a leader.

“We have a lot to prove. It takes four to win a series, that’s what we have to focus on.”

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