Brunson scores career-best 38, Knicks edge Spurs 117-114

Jan 4, 2023, 5:15 AM | Updated: 8:00 pm
New York Knicks' Julius Randle (30) blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs' Josh Richardson (7) during ...

New York Knicks' Julius Randle (30) blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs' Josh Richardson (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

              San Antonio Spurs' Josh Richardson (7) drives past New York Knicks' Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
            
              San Antonio Spurs' Doug McDermott (17) shoots over New York Knicks' Evan Fournier (13) and Jericho Sims during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
            
              New York Knicks' Julius Randle (30) blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs' Josh Richardson (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Asked before the game about his team’s victory over the Knicks last week, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was quick to note that Jalen Brunson didn’t play.

What a difference he made in the rematch.

Brunson scored a career-high 38 points, Julius Randle had 25 points and 13 rebounds, and New York beat San Antonio 117-114 on Wednesday night.

Brunson added seven rebounds and six assists for the Knicks, who won their third straight since a 122-115 loss in San Antonio last Thursday.

“He’s got it all,” Popovich said. “He’s got the skill, but he’s got the toughness. He’s got the basketball IQ to go with it. Just a hell of a competitor.”

Brunson missed three games last week with a sore right hip, but returned with 24 points in a victory over Phoenix on Monday. He made the big plays late in this one to surpass his previous regular-season best of 34 points.

“Whatever it takes to win,” Brunson said. “I could have 38 or I could have three points. If we win that’s all I really care about.”

Brunson made the go-ahead basket with 3:02 to play, then knocked down a pair of jumpers to push the lead to 116-112 with 1:17 to go.

The Spurs cut it to two and forced the ball out of Brunson’s hands to regain possession with a chance to tie, but they were called for a 5-second violation trying to get the ball in with 5.7 seconds remaining. Evan Fournier made one free throw to make it 117-114, but the Spurs couldn’t get off a last 3-point attempt in time.

“The bottom line is getting the win,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ve just got to scratch wins out.”

Keldon Johnson scored 26 points for the Spurs, and Josh Richardson had 20. Zach Collins added 16 points and Doug McDermott finished with 15, but the Spurs gave up 25 second-chance points.

The Knicks led by 13 in the first quarter before settling for a 39-29 advantage. The Spurs charged ahead with a 13-0 run in the second to go ahead 44-41, but the Knicks recovered and were up 62-55 after Brunson had two baskets in the final 35 seconds of the first half.

Both teams shot better than 60% in the third quarter, with Randle’s jumper as time expired making it 94-89.

TIP-INS

Spurs: G Devin Vassell was out again because of left knee soreness. He played Monday after missing the previous two games for the same problem. … The Spurs practiced at Baruch College while in the city and Popovich joked he looked for a picture of U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos in the gym. Santos has admitted to lying about having earned a degree in finance and economics at the school. “I thought maybe he had played sports or something while he was there,” Popovich said. “Because that’s where he went to school, right?”

Knicks: Obi Toppin and Derrick Rose were active but did not play. Toppin had been inactive the previous 13 games because of a nondisplaced fracture of his right fibula. Thibodeau said he needed to do more at practice before he was ready to get into a game. Thibodeau said the backup forward would play when ready, but stopped short of assuring a return to his previous minutes, with Randle flourishing with a heavier workload.

PACKING THE PLACE

The Spurs said more than 53,000 tickets have been sold for their Jan. 13 game at the Alamodome against Golden State, guaranteeing it to be the third-largest attendance for an NBA game. The record is 62,046 at the Georgia Dome for a Bulls-Hawks game on March 27, 1998.

UP NEXT

Spurs; Host Detroit on Friday.

Knicks: At Toronto on Friday.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives as Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) defends during the f...
Associated Press

Young scores 27 to lead Hawks past Jazz, 115-108

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Trae Young had 27 points and six assists to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 115-108 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night. De’Andre Hunter scored 26 points for the Hawks. Onyeka Okongwu had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray added 13 points and eight assists. Atlanta […]
23 hours ago
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) shoots a three point basket as Houston Rockets forward Jae...
Associated Press

VanVleet has 32 as Raptors get 117-111 win over Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 32 points, Gary Trent Jr. added 29 and the Toronto Raptors snapped a two-game skid with a 117-111 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night. The Raptors took a commanding lead in the third quarter and were up by double-digits for most of the fourth. But five straight […]
23 hours ago
Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) shoots against Washington Wizards guard Monte Morr...
Associated Press

Blazers rally from 20 down to end Wizards’ win streak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anfernee Simons scored 20 of his 33 points in the third quarter and the Portland Trail Blazers erased a 20-point deficit, snapping Washington’s six-game winning streak Friday night with a 124-116 victory over the Wizards. Simons made six of Portland’s nine 3-pointers in the third, and the Trail Blazers finally caught and […]
23 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) is fouled as he drives to the basket against San Antonio...
Associated Press

Embiid’s double-double keys 76ers as Spurs drop 8th straight

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Joel Embiid had 33 points and 10 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers beat San Antonio 137-125 on Friday night, sending the scuffling Spurs to their eighth straight loss. Tyrese Maxey had 25 points and James Harden added 16 for Philadelphia, which has the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. “Tonight was […]
23 hours ago
A scrum breaks out between Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic players during the second half ...
Associated Press

Fight between Magic, Timberwolves leads to 5 players ejected

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A fight broke out and punches were thrown during the game between the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Five players were ejected following the brawl, which started in front of the Orlando bench late in the third quarter. Minnesota guard Austin Rivers and Magic center Mo Bamba were the […]
23 hours ago
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8) stands on the ice during the NHL All Star Skills Showcase, F...
Associated Press

NHL takes skills showcase outside, McDavid shines inside

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sidney Crosby got dunked into a tank of water, Nick Suzuki holed a golf ball with a hockey stick and the NHL made hockey an outdoor sport for its skills showcase in South Florida. Two new events outside in the sun highlighted the league’s annual skills competition at All-Star Weekend, with […]
23 hours ago
Brunson scores career-best 38, Knicks edge Spurs 117-114