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Miles McBride does it all in OG Anunoby’s absence as Knicks gut out win over Warriors

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SAN FRANCISCO — Who needs OG Anunoby when the Knicks have Miles McBride?

It’s a reactionary statement, probably unsustainable, but definitely true Monday night, when McBride balled out in the first half, rarely left the court and chased around Steph Curry in the Knicks’ 119-112 gut-check victory over the Warriors.

“On the road this team has demonstrated all year it has a lot of fight, a lot of heart, a lot of toughness, a lot of togetherness to the group,” Tom Thibodeau said. “So there’s a belief we can win. … It’s a good solid win for us.”

Miles McBride had a big game for the Knicks against the Warriors on Monday night. John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

With Anunoby out indefinitely because of a setback to his surgically repaired elbow, McBride dropped a career-high 29 points in 46 minutes, serving as a perimeter menace on defense while holding Curry to a pedestrian 27 points.

“He was huge for us, obviously,” Josh Hart said. “Everyone’s gonna see the box score and see he shot the ball very well and was very efficient, but he did that while guarding Steph, pressuring him, running around with him all game. So he was huge for us and something that we need.”

Jalen Brunson drives to the basket against Draymond Green on Monday night. Getty Images

McBride’s 3-pointer with 3:29 left was one of the biggest shots of the evening, perhaps No. 1, because it sucked the air out of a Warriors mini-run and sent fans scrambling for the exits. 

The guard was the sidekick to another Picasso from Jalen Brunson, the abstract scorer who dropped 34 points on 12 of 25 shooting from the field. 

“They took it to us, they were physical, they played with great force,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought Tom (Thibodeau) made a great move starting McBride with OG out, putting McBride out there spaced the floor and obviously he got going. They had us really spread out early. We knew they were going to come in and play hard after we got them a couple of weeks ago. That’s kind of their identity, they’re a hard-playing team. They took it to us tonight.”

The Knicks (41-27) have won four straight, with a chance to sweep their Western Conference road trip on Thursday in Denver. 

Normally, the shorthanded Knicks would have no chance against the defending champs in the Mile High City. 

Josh Hart has a triple-double for the Knicks on Monday night. Getty Images

But these Knicks don’t seem to settle based on expectations. Their underdog identity, encapsulated by McBride’s performance Monday, has carried them to fourth in the East, just three games out of No. 2. 

“On the road, this team has demonstrated all year there’s a lot of fight, a lot of heart, a lot of toughness. And a lot of togetherness to the group,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So there’s a belief we can win and we always talk about our defense, our rebounding, taking care of the ball. I thought we shared the ball extremely well tonight. It’s hard to win (in Golden State). And they’re a very difficult team to guard. So it’s a good solid win for us.”

They’ve maintained this position without Julius Randle, who is out with a dislocated shoulder, and Mitchell Robinson, their starting center with a surgically repaired ankle, and again without Anunoby, who flew home for an MRI exam because his elbow “flared up.”

Without any of them Monday, the Knicks led wire-to-wire in San Francisco and held an 18-4 advantage after about 5 ½ minutes. It was the opposite last month against the Warriors at MSG, where the Knicks fell in an early hole and never recovered. 

But Thibodeau’s squad is nothing if not resilient. It entered Curry’s home and led from the 19th second to the 48th minute. 

Hart was on the court for all of it – logging 48 minutes for his fifth triple-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. 

“I’m gonna have some wine and see how much that knocks me out,” Hart said.

The night was also the triumphant return for Donte DiVincenzo, who played his first game at the Chase Center since leaving the Warriors for the Knicks in free agency. DiVincenzo broke out of a slump with 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting. 

DiVincenzo had nothing but positive feelings and memories about his time in Golden State, having outplayed any contract the Warriors could’ve offered in free agency because of their cap restraints. 

DiVincenzo even sought Curry’s advice before signing with the Knicks.

Donte DiVincenzo Getty Images

“If you played with him, wouldn’t you want to?” DiVincenzo said. “That’s pretty much as simple as it was. I had a relationship with him on and off the court. Obviously, I value his opinion.”

DiVincenzo was pushed to small forward because of the surprise start of McBride over Precious Achiuwa. 

To say that worked out is an understatement. 

The guard played the entire first half and dropped 19 points, knocking down five treys on seven attempts. To make it more impressive, McBride never stopped shadowing Curry, who shot 8 for 20 with a pair of turnovers.

“The game in New York (last month), they loaded up on Jalen pretty good,” Thibodeau said. “We wanted to add more shooting. That’s why we (started McBride). When they sent the second defender, now we got another shooter out there. We thought that would make a difference. … We kicked it around a little bit. But we thought that gave us our best chance.”

It was the sixth start of the season for McBride, but the first alongside Brunson. 

The defensive specialist, who signed a three-year, $13 million extension a few months ago, has greatly improved his efficiency this season, entering Monday night shooting 44% – including 40% from beyond the arc. 

In Golden State, he knocked down 6 of 9 treys. 

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