No Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Quentin Grimes, or Mitchell Robinson. The New York Knicks were without three starters against the Pacers on Thursday, but that didn't matter. Why? Because Jalen Brunson is their point guard.
Of course, the 109-105 win was a team effort, but it was a special night for Brunson. A couple hours after being named an All-Star for the first time, he dropped 40 points. He could've added a few more points to that total if the referees hadn't swallowed their whistles on multiple possessions, but that's another story.
What matters is that the Knicks came out with the win, putting them a half-game back from the Bucks for second place in the East. Yes, you read that right. As Mike Breen said, the fan base and city have fallen in love with this squad.
If the win wasn't memorable enough, Brunson teared up in his postgame interview when Alan Hahn asked him to talk about his journey being a first-time All-Star and getting MVP chants at MSG. He took a couple of seconds to collect himself before he clapped his hands and said, "I got nothing to say," as he wiped tears from his eyes.
Jalen Brunson gets emotional after Knicks pull out gritty win at MSG
Brunson grew up at MSG watching his father, so imagine what was going through his head on Thursday. Whether he's a true star or not is no longer a question. He's the leader of one of the best Knicks teams in a long time. What a special time, not only for the fans but for him and his family.
Knowing how Brunson is, he'll enjoy the night before getting right back to the grind to prepare for Saturday's game against the Lakers. His eye is on an NBA title. This would've sounded bizarre two years ago, but New York is in a position to make it that far.
Knicks fans, there's still a lot of basketball left to be played this season, but soak in this feeling. Jalen Brunson is your point guard. Life is good.