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Jalen Brunson’s record-breaking 47-point effort carries Knicks to wild Game 4 win to put 76ers on the brink



PHILADELPHIA — By the time Jalen Brunson left for the locker room Sunday afternoon, the Knicks and their fate were solely on his shoulders.

He had carried the team through the comeback, through the shooting struggles of his former Villanova teammates, through the battles in the paint for smidgens of space to unload his floaters, his jumpers, his array of offensive weapons.

But Brunson had left the court after his clutch and-1 to end the third quarter, begrudgingly heading to the locker room on orders from the training staff after banging knees with Kyle Lowry.

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson goes up for a shot against the 76ers in Game 4 on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
Jalen Brunson set a Knicks playoff record with 47 points in their Game 4 win on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
Jalen Brunson celebrates during the Knicks’ Game 4 win on Sunday. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“I didn’t want to, but went back there,” Brunson said, “walked around for a couple of seconds and came back out.”

Brunson returned to cap his latest virtuoso performance — the best one yet considering the circumstances — while securing a Knicks playoff record with 47 points. It eclipsed Bernard King’s postseason mark of 46 points set (twice) in 1982. Brunson added 10 assists with just one turnover, shooting an efficient 18-for-34.

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson drives to the paint against the 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“I’ll look back when I retire,” said Brunson, who scored 61 points in a March game, one short of the franchise’s regular season-record. “Seriously, it’s great right now. It helped us get a win. But it’s not going to do anything for us going forward.”

And the Knicks needed almost all of the record Sunday to beat the Sixers, 97-92, before bussing up the turnpike with a 3-1 series lead.

They can eliminate the Sixers on Tuesday at the Garden. Brunson had already switched gears to Game 5.

Jalen Brunson shoots a floater over Joel Embiid on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“I’m going to continue to say it — we’ve got to be better if we want to close it out and move onto the next round because this team is not going to quit fighting,” the All-Star said.

Each point was vital down the stretch as the Knicks and Sixers, looking exhausted after a physically taxing battle, stopped scoring. Brunson, also the first Knick with 40-plus points and 10-plus assists in a playoff game, was helped by OG Anunoby, who was not only the team’s second-leading scorer Sunday (with 16 points) but also the main reason Joel Embiid was held in check in the second half.

Brunson did most of the work on one side of the court. Anunoby and Josh Hart, in particular, were the MVPs on defense. The Sixers, who led by double digits in the third quarter, scored just 16 points in the fourth on 25 percent shooting.

Embiid managed just one point in the final period while missing all five of his field-goal attempts. He finished with 27 points on 7-for-19 shooting, one game after he dropped 50 on the Knicks.

With Mitchell Robinson injured and Isaiah Hartenstein in foul trouble, Tom Thibodeau went with Anunoby as the primary defender on Embiid. Assisted by a trap every time the Sixers center touched the ball, it worked wonders.

The Sixers were flummoxed in the fourth quarter.

But even with Brunson wearing a superhero cape and Embiid riding the struggle bus, a victory Sunday wasn’t easy. The Knicks trailed by as many as 12, and their offense was inefficient outside of the point guard.

Donte DiVincenzo and Hart combined to shoot just 3-for-18. Another offensive weapon, Bojan Bogdanovic, was hurt in the first half and ruled out because of a foot contusion.

Satisfying the many Knicks fans in Wells Fargo Center required another big victory on the boards, and Hart and Precious Achiuwa obliged with nine combined offensive rebounds. The Knicks grabbed seven of their 15 total offensive boards in the fourth quarter. They won the physical battle while holding the Sixers to 35.4 percent shooting.

The Knicks’ OG Anunoby goes up for a shot against the 76ers’ Joel Embiid on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“They got obviously their best player that they trust and they’re OK with him taking 40 shots a game,” Embiid said of Brunson. “And I think most of the time when you are in rotation or when you are trying to load up to make sure that he doesn’t get easy shots, that kind of gives them a lot of open lanes to just attack the offensive glass. And it almost seems like they just know he’s gonna shoot it. So they’re just getting ready to offensive rebound.”

“Everyone questioned the rebounding with Josh at the power forward. We’ve been the best rebounding team all year,” Tom Thibodeau said. “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.”

There was a lot of tough talk from both sides during the series about playing hard and winning the physical battle and dirty plays from the Sixers.

On Sunday, Embiid hit Brunson with an unnecessary forearm in the third quarter, around the same time Hart connected on Lowry’s face with an inadvertent elbow.

John Starks reacts courtside during the Knicks’ Game 4 win on Sunday. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

But there were no flagrants. Not even a tech. It was largely tame and controlled by the referees.

The big difference was Brunson. After struggling in the first two games of the series, he’s averaged 43 points in the last two.

“Yeah, we needed it. S–t. I’m the starting small forward, power forward, whatever I am, and I didn’t make a shot,” Hart said. “I was like Shaq at the free-throw line. So we needed it. He played great offensively, aggressive. And that’s what we needed”

“You come to expect it,” Anunoby said. “You expect him to make every shot. He’s a great player.”

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