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Jalen Brunson Electrifies NBA Fans as Knicks Take Series Lead vs. Haliburton, Pacers

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Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The New York Knicks are now one win away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 24 years, and they largely have Jalen Brunson to thank for it.

The star point guard exploded for 44 points, seven assists and four rebounds on 18-of-35 shooting from the field while leading his side to a 121-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Tuesday’s Game 5 of their second-round series at Madison Square Garden.

It wasn’t just Brunson, as Josh Hart (18 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Isaiah Hartenstein (seven points, 17 rebounds, 12 offensive rebounds and five assists) helped stake New York to a 3-2 series lead. A solid performance from Pascal Siakam (22 points and eight rebounds) was nowhere near enough for the Pacers, who will now have to win two straight to advance.

Unsurprisingly, it was Brunson who drew much of the reaction from social media:

Tom Haberstroh @tomhaberstroh

Since 1990, names of players who have scored 373+ points in first 11 games of a postseason (via <a href=”https://twitter.com/Stathead?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Stathead</a>):<br><br>Michael Jordan<br>LeBron James<br>Kevin Durant<br>Jalen Brunson

The home team has won every contest in this series, but Tuesday seemed like a golden opportunity for the Pacers to change that given the momentum they generated from their blowout win in Game 4 and the injuries to OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanović on the other side.

New York had other plans.

The Knicks fed off the energy from the crowd and dominated at the start on the way to a 15-point halftime advantage. Brunson was completely unstoppable as he worked into the lane and overpowered every defender Indiana threw at him on his way to 28 first-half points.

Brunson was the clear star, but it was far from a one-man show.

New starter Miles McBride and Hart each provided a spark with their shooting stroke, while Hartenstein overwhelmed the Pacers on the offensive glass to create secondary chances for the perimeter playmakers.

Throw in Donte DiVincenzo getting into multiple scuffles and firing up the crowd even more, and the Knicks were dialed in as they expanded their lead heading into the fourth quarter.

That provided more than enough cushion to absorb a brief run by Siakam and still leave no doubt about the outcome. Fittingly, Brunson helped put an end to that spurt by finishing an acrobatic shot in the lane during a play that summarized the evening for both the star guard and the Pacers.

As a result, the Knicks will have the opportunity to close things out when the series returns to Indiana for Friday’s Game 6.

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