The Knicks returned to Chicago for the second time in three games and got some payback behind another 40-point gem from Jalen Brunson.

The New York Knicks (47-32) defeated the Chicago Bulls (37-42) by a final score of 128-117 behind a Jalen Brunson 45-point performance and a big game in support from OG Anunoby. 

The Knicks were coming off a strong win over the 2 seed Milwaukee Bucks, keeping them in the race for a top seed against the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Bucks. 

But, they were also coming off a loss in Chicago despite having a healthy Anunoby on the floor to help anchor their defense. A Josh Hart ejection in that game may have swung momentum to the Bulls, so the Knicks were looking to avenge the folly in one of their last regular season matchups versus the Bulls. 

The game opened with a quick score from Coby White, but an immediate response from Anunoby on the other end – a savvy layup on two Bulls defenders in the post. Anunoby then followed with a strong dunk. New York’s defense looked locked in early, blocking many of Chicago’s passing lanes. The Bulls finally responded with a three after a quick timeout, which Anunoby again responded to with a three of his own. He was feasting all of the first quarter, although White responded with makes of his own. However, the Knicks showed more firepower and gusto on offense, while the Bulls struggled to find their footing outside of the occasional three-point attempt. Brunson was especially selfless, sending dimes to everyone and cutting to the cup. Brunson caught flame from deep to end the quarter, finishing up with 15 points on 3-3 three-point shooting along with four assists and helping lead New York to a nine-point lead after one. 

The second quarter began with an unfortunate double dunk attempt from Torrey Craig and Andre Drummond, which resulted in Drummond getting injured on the other end of the floor after the play. Things were discombobulated to start, but the Knicks settled in after the strange change in pace. Without Anunoby on the floor, New York struggled a bit to keep Chicago out of the paint. Thanks to a few misses from the Bulls, though, the Knicks managed to expand on their lead despite that lack of defensive grit. Bojan Bogdanovic also continued to look good from three, hitting one in transition halfway through the second. Anunoby and Brunson re-entered the game around the six-minute mark, but Nikola Vucevic was still managing to very slowly but surely piece together a comeback in the period. Mitchell Robinson was a big part of why Vucevic could not be stopped, looking a step slow on defense and not securing enough boards on him. Brunson helped to keep the team afloat despite those gaps, and they managed to hold together a six-point lead at the half despite a poor turnover that led to two threes to close the half from Chicago. 

With Anunoby in foul trouble, the Knicks had to try and find an impact on defense through other stalwarts like Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo. To open the third, they were grabbing more 50-50 rebounds than in the second getting good ball movement on the other end of the floor to add to their lead. Anunoby hit yet another three thanks to that ball movement, and DiVincenzo capitalized with a three after a great stop from the team. Brunson was the clear Knick with a knack in this contest, though, finishing through contact with ease in the early going of the third. While DeMar DeRozan was doing his best to keep pace scoring-wise with the Knicks, they just responded to all of his punches with ease, and through players, other than Brunson – Isaiah Hartenstein was automatic with his floater, while Anunoby hit another tough basket at the cup in the quarter. However, about halfway through the third, the defense looked tired, and they quickly allowed Chicago to get back to within seven. They continued to struggle to contain Vucevic and Derozan, but the team stayed up by eight with about a minute to go thanks to Anunoby’s and Brunson’s efforts offensively. They were up six to enter the fourth in desperate need of more stops on Derozan. 

Derozan opened the fourth with another made bucket, continuing to look unstoppable for this Knicks defense, but Deuce McBride responded with a quick layup through contact. McBride then hit another big shot, helping his backcourt teammate Brunson with the offensive load just a bit to open the period. By the seven-minute mark, Brunson had hit his fifth three-pointer of the night and extended the Knicks lead to nine. He then hit his sixth, securing another 40-point performance and bringing the New York lead up to 11 with about five minutes left in regulation. Two quick turnovers from DiVincenzo with about three left in the quarter led to some easy points for Chicago, bringing New York’s lead to just seven. Just in time though, and for much of the game, Brunson hit another three to extend the lead to ten. He torched Chicago, going for a team-high and game-high 45 points and securing another important conference standings win. 

Brunson had eight assists, one steal, and three boards aside from serving a 45-point burger. Anunoby had 24 points along with three rebounds, one assist, and one block. DiVincenzo had a solid 21 points along with six assists and four rebounds, while Hart finished with 16 points, 13 boards, and seven assists. Hartenstein had 11 points, four boards, and six assists. 

McBride finished with seven points, two rebounds, and two assists, while Bogdanovic had just three points, one board, and one assist. Robinson had just one board. 

The Knicks now face off with the Boston Celtics on Thursday at 7:30 pm EST, in yet another pivotal standings game. 

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