New York Knicks reinvent themselves in win after Jalen Brunson's scary injury

Jalen Brunson went down less than a minute into the Knicks' game against the Cavaliers.
Mar 3, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) celebrates his
Mar 3, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) celebrates his / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks took down a tough Cavaliers team Sunday night with a 107-98 win on the road in Cleveland. The win comes after Jalen Brunson suffered an unfortunate injury within the first minute of the game.

Knicks fans everywhere were crushed, losing their All-Star and leading scorer on a scary injury. According to New York Post's Stefan Bondy, Brunson has a left knee contusion.

Nevertheless, the Knicks embraced that "next man up" mentality. With four out of five starters (Brunson, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson) out, getting a win on the road against the second-best team in the East is no easy feat.

Knicks embrace next man-up mentality after Jalen Brunson injury

After Brunson went down, Tom Thibodeau put Miles McBride in at the point guard spot. McBride never left the game. He finished with 16 points and a plus-minus of +11.

Donte DiVincenzo was on fire, shooting 66.7% in the second half and scoring 28 points. He has stepped up when it matters most, averaging 23.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in his last 14 games.

DiVincenzo was able to pick his spots perfectly, working off-ball screens and launching the three-ball more than any player on the court. Time and time again, the Villanova product has proven to be a valuable scorer this season.

Josh Hart was the definition of a do-it-all player, putting up 13 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks, and two steals. Hart tied his career-high in boards while hitting a clutch side-step three with under two minutes in the game.

NBA fans knew Hart was a dynamic role player, but to step up and be able to not only score in big moments but have an even better performance on the other side of the floor says a lot about what he's capable of. It's a great sign for what's to come as the playoffs approach.

Thibodeau has a way of wearing down his guards by playing them 40+ minutes each night. McBride is young at 23 years old, but 47 minutes is absurd. He practically played the entire game. Hart played 45 minutes, meaning he has sat just four minutes in the past two games.

Perhaps Brunson having to play 36+ minutes each night is what caused this injury. Or maybe it was just a freak play that didn't come from wear and tear. Who knows?

The bottom line is that the Knicks have continued to find ways to step up when it matters most. After Randle went down with a dislocated shoulder in early February, the Knicks treaded above water at .500, going 8-8 in their past 16 games. They remain the fourth seed in the East.

Although Thibs does overwork his guards, credit has to go to his defensive philosophy, and having his team embrace the gritty New York toughness that fans can appreciate. The Knicks have the fourth-best defensive rating since January 1 at 110.8.

Even with Donovan Mitchell being out for the Cavaliers, they did a nice job of holding Cleveland to 98 points, a great defensive game in today's NBA. The Cavs never had a lead of more than five points.

The hope is Brunson's MRI won't show any tear in his leg, which would mean he'd likely be out anywhere from a few days to a few weeks but would still return for the playoffs if the New York can maintain position.

The Knicks will travel back to Madison Square Garden for a four-game home stretch starting on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

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