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New York trademark: High-energy Knicks pound Pacers as Brunson erupts for 44

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Jalen Brunson pumps in at least 40 points for the fifth time in the playoffs as the Knicks move within a win of ousting the Pacers and marching to the East finals

Jalen Brunson scored 44 points for the host New York Knicks, who routed the Indiana Pacers, 121-91, in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday night, May 14 (Wednesday, May 15, Manila time).

The Knicks, who lost Games 3 and 4 in Indianapolis, now hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. New York will attempt to clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference finals with a road win in Game 6 on Friday.

Brunson, who scored at least 40 points for the fifth time in 11 playoff games this spring, added 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 43 minutes.

Josh Hart logged 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, and Isaiah Hartenstein pulled down 17 rebounds. Hartenstein’s 12 offensive boards tied a franchise playoff record set by Charles Oakley against the Chicago Bulls on May 15, 1994.

Alec Burks had 18 points off the bench while Miles McBride scored 17 points for the Knicks. New York utilized a seven-man rotation with Julius Randle (shoulder) out for the season, Mitchell Robinson (ankle) out until at least mid-June, and OG Anunoby (hamstring) sidelined for a third straight game.

“To me, that’s been a trademark of the team,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of New York’s high level of energy. 

“We’ve been shorthanded all year and this is our way. We have to play hard as heck on every possession and we’ve got to keep doing it. So, we have to do that for 48 minutes.

“And we know if we defend and we rebound, take care of the ball, we’re going to have a good chance to win.”

Pascal Siakam amassed 22 points and 8 rebounds for the Pacers, while Myles Turner had 16 points. 

Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged 23.8 points and 16.5 shot attempts in the first four games of the series, was limited to just 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Andrew Nembhard added 11 points.

The Pacers led by as many as 7 points in the first quarter before the Knicks went ahead for good by ending the period with a 22-10 run to take a 38-32 lead. Brunson scored 18 points in the second, when New York led by as many as 18 before entering the half with a 69-54 lead.

Turner hit three unanswered three-pointers in a 64-second span to pull the Pacers within 70-63 with 9:56 left in the third.

Donte DiVincenzo sank a floater for the Knicks and Nembhard split a pair of free throws before New York went on a 17-0 run. 

Indiana missed nine straight shots and committed three turnovers as the Knicks moved ahead 89-64 with 3:13 left in the period.

The Pacers began the fourth on a 9-0 run that featured six points from Siakam. However, Brunson scored 7 unanswered points in a subsequent 10-0 run for the Knicks, putting the game out of reach.

“Very poor effort, obviously,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. 

“Lost every quarter. Got annihilated on loose balls and rebounds. Gave up 20 offensive rebounds and 29 more shots. So we all own it. But very embarrassing.

“Very embarrassing and a hard lesson.” – Rappler.com

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