Advertisement

Knicks overcome losing All-Star Jalen Brunson with bruised knee, regroup to beat Cavaliers 107-98

CLEVELAND (AP) — One minute into the game, the New York Knicks had their season flash before their eyes.

Turns out, it was probably just a scare.

Josh Hart had a triple-double, Donte DiVincenzo scored 28 points and the Knicks regrouped after losing All-Star guard Jalen Brunson in the first minute with a left knee injury to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-98 on Sunday night.

Hart finished with 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists in helping the Knicks cope for one night without Brunson, their latest starter to get hurt.

After the game, coach Tom Thibodeau said X-rays on Brunson's knee were negative.

“It’s a knee contusion," said a relaxed Thibodeau. "He bumped knees. That’s what happened. He got the X-rays, was examined by the doctor. Everything was negative. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

Hart and Miles McBride, who replaced Brunson and never came out, each made 3-pointers in the final 1:36 as New York held off the Cavs, who were within three at 101-98 on Evan Mobley's dunk.

That's when Hart drilled his 3 in Mobley's face and made sure Cleveland's bench heard about it. Hart didn't repeat exactly what he said, but joked that he was simply complimenting good friend Donovan Mitchell's expensive chain.

“I was just having fun,” Hart said.

Then following a steal by Hart, McBride drained a dagger 3-pointer to close out a game that began with Brunson being helped to the locker room after less than a minute of action. The Knicks, though, showed their toughness.

“When a guy goes down, you have to find a way,” Hart said. “We had to go out there and play our game.”

Brunson, who has been carrying the Knicks during a rash of key injuries, was hurt on New York's first possession.

Coming off a screen, Brunson rose for a jump shot near the foul line when he appeared to feel pain on lift off. He shot an air ball and landed before stumbling and dropping to the floor near the 3-point line.

Brunson stayed in a seated possession while play continued before getting up and limping to the sideline, where he again went down in obvious pain. The 27-year-old guard was helped to his feet and escorted to the locker room.

It wasn't immediately clear when Brunson got hurt. While he was not touched by Cleveland's Isaac Okoro on the jumper, replays showed Brunson bump knees with Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein early in the possession.

“You don't want to see anyone go down like that. He's one of the toughest guys in the league,” DiVincenzo said about Brunson. “I know he'll be ready to go.”

Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points and McBride 16 in 47 turnover-free minutes.

Sam Merrill and Jarrett Allen scored 18 apiece for the Cavs, who played without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell (sore knee) and top sub Caris LeVert (sore elbow). Mobley had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

“We played in spurts,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We had a good second quarter. But to come out of halftime and give up 36 points to a team that was down as many guys as they were down, that’s disappointing defensively.”

“We’ve got to be better than that.”

Even before Brunson went down, both teams looked very different than in their playoff matchup last season, which New York won in five games.

While the Cavs were without Mitchell and LeVert, the Knicks didn't have three starters: All-Star forward Julius Randle (shoulder), center Mitchell Robinson (ankle) and guard O.G. Anunoby (elbow).

Brunson has been instrumental in New York staying in the playoff hurt while being short-handed and now the Knicks made need others to pick up the slack if he's out for an extended period.

“The thing about us is we're gritty,” DiVincenzo said. “We're collectively together. There's not one guy who wants to go out there and outshine anybody. That's our goal: win the game. It doesn't matter how we do it.”

Randle has been doing on-court workouts and he pushed himself hard during a pregame training session.

Thibodeau said Randle has made “very good progress” with one of the next being contact. Thibodeau indicated that surgery seems less likely.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host Atlanta on Tuesday night.

Cavaliers: Host Boston on Tuesday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

Tom Withers, The Associated Press