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Sixers on the brink as Jalen Brunson erupts for franchise record in NBA playoffs statement



Jalen Brunson strapped on his cape and vanquished the Sixers.

The Knicks point guard dropped 47 points — setting the franchise playoff record — to carry New York to a 97-92 victory and a 3-1 series advantage.

By the end of the game, the crowd, split throughout, was decidedly in New York’s corner with Brunson “MVP” chants reverberating inside Wells Fargo Center.

He toppled the previous Knicks playoff record set by Bernard King (twice) in 1984.

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Jalen Brunson came up big in the win. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Brunson, who also became 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 but the main reason Joel Embiid was held in check in the second half.

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

The Sixers finished with just 16 points in the fourth quarter and scored just three points in the final five minutes. Embiid, who dropped 50 points in Friday’s Sixers win, managed just 27 Monday on 7-for-19 shooting.

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The Knicks can clinch the series Wednesday at MSG.

But Monday certainly wasn’t easy. The visitors trailed by as many as 12, and their offence was inefficient outside of Brunson’s heroics.

Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart combined to shoot just 3-for-18. Another normal offensive weapon — Bojan Bogdanovic — was hurt in the first half and did not return.

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

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

The Knicks now lead the series 3-1. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Brunson was fantastic in the first half, rediscovering the form that made him a late entrant into the MVP conversation. He had 23 points at the break with seven assists, shooting 10-for-15.

Bogdanovic lasted just one minute before limping off the court. He was chasing after a loose ball alongside Nic Batum, who dove and landed on Bogdanovic’s leg.

Bogdanovic then limped to the locker room and was diagnosed with a left ankle contusion, according to the Knicks.

The Knicks were already down an important piece without Robinson, the biggest body to compete with Embiid.

Robinson re-injured his surgically-repaired ankle in Friday’s Game 3, a setback exacerbated by some questionable tactics from Embiid — including a Flagrant 1 takedown.

Robinson warmed up but was ruled out about 30 minutes before tipoff.

Without the backup center, Hartenstein got the bulk of the time but predictably fell into foul trouble — committing five fouls in the third quarter — prompting Precious Achiuwa into action and the important move for Anunoby to defend Embiid.

This article first appeared on The New York Postand was reproduced with permission.

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