NBA playoffs: Brunson guides NY Knicks’ win over Indiana Pacers

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Jalen Brunson returned on court from an injury to lead New York Knicks' fightback against the Indiana Pacers during Game 2 of the second round of playoffs at Madison Square Garden [Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports via Reuters]

Brunson returned from a foot injury and led the Knicks to a 2-0 playoff series lead over the Pacers.

Jalen Brunson shrugged off injury to spark a sensational second-half fightback as the New York Knicks battled past the Indiana Pacers 130-121 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NBA playoff series on Wednesday.

New York talisman Brunson gave his team a huge scare after suffering a foot injury in the first quarter which forced him to sit out the remainder of the half at Madison Square Garden.

Indiana exploited Brunson’s absence to open up a 10-point advantage by half-time and were soon 12 points up in the third quarter after an early Andrew Nembhard layup.

But a limping Brunson – who returned at the start of the third quarter – led a stunning rally as the Knicks outscored Indiana 36-18 in the third to take a 99-91 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Knicks then dug deep to hold onto their advantage in the fourth, outscoring the Pacers 31-30 to close out a famous victory.

Brunson finished with 29 points and five assists while Donte DiVincenzo and OG Anunoby came up big with 28 points apiece.

Josh Hart added 19 points with 15 rebounds while Isaiah Hartenstein was huge defensively, with 12 rebounds, eight assists and 14 points.

“We found a way, that’s it,” said an exhausted Brunson. “For us it starts with our habits — we’ve talked about doing the little things from day one a little bit better, because you never know when they’re going to help you in a big game.

“It’s all about doing the little things well every single day, and we pride ourselves on that.”

The victory came at a cost though for the Knicks, who were already missing injured first-choice players Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic.

As well as the injury to Brunson on Wednesday, the Knicks saw another player injured with Anunoby limping out of the game in the third quarter with a hamstring problem.

Somehow the Knicks hung on to edge past the Pacers, with Brunson pouring in 14 fourth-quarter points and DiVincenzo adding eight points including two crucial three-pointers that helped keep Indiana at arm’s length.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau revealed the team were uncertain of whether Brunson would continue after missing the second quarter.

“We didn’t know if he was going to be able to go or not, but he found a way to get it done,” Thibodeau said.

Tyrese Haliburton led Indiana’s scorers with 34 points while Nembhard finished with 15 points and Pascal Siakam 14. Obi Toppin added 20 from the bench.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was ejected late in the fourth quarter after ranting at officials following a decision to overturn a double-dribble call against the Knicks’ Hartenstein.

Carlisle took aim at the officiating crew following the defeat, saying his team had been unfairly treated.

“I’m always talking to our guys about not making it all about the officials, but we deserve a fair shot,” Carlisle said. “There’s not a consistent balance and that’s disappointing. Give New York credit for the physicality that they’re playing with. But their physicality is rewarded and ours is penalized.”

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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