Brunson scores career-high 50 to lift Knicks over Suns
PHOENIX (AP) — Jalen Brunson's eighth 3-point attempt of the night initially looked a little off the mark, hitting the side of the rim before bouncing around a couple times and finally dropping through.
The sixth-year guard was so hot from the field that a shooter's roll almost seemed unfair. He got it anyway.
It was a brilliant shooting display from Brunson, who made 17 of 23 shots, including 12 of 12 in the second half. His final 3 got him to 50 points for the night. He also had five steals.
“I had no idea,” Brunson said about his perfection from long range. “I was just playing free.”
Brunson is the first Knicks player in franchise history to score 50 points while making nine 3s.
Phoenix — which lost star guard Bradley Beal to an ankle injury in the first quarter — has dropped six of its last eight. New York has won two of three.
“They made shots and just got hot and aggressive,” Suns star Kevin Durant said. “They killed us in the pick and roll and that was the game.”
The Suns led by 10 midway through the third quarter but settled for a 99-97 lead heading to the fourth. Brunson kept the Knicks close with 19 points in the quarter on 7-for-7 shooting, including five 3-pointers.
“The way he shot the ball was special,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Knicks used a 13-4 run early in the fourth to push ahead and never lost the lead, pulling away in the final minutes.
Durant scored 29 points to lead the Suns. Devin Booker added 28.
Durant scored 17 points in the first half, leading the Suns to a 68-63 halftime lead. Brunson led the Knicks with 15.
Beal was hurt after taking a 3-point shot in the first quarter, which he made, but he landed on the foot of New York’s Donte DiVincenzo, who was called for a Flagrant 1 foul because he didn’t allow Beal a space to land.
The 30-year-old guard was on the ground for a few minutes, writhing in pain. He eventually got up to make his free throw, but then went to the locker room.
It's another setback for Beal, who has missed most of this season with a sore back. It also means the Suns might be without a member of their All-Star trio for another extended period. Durant, Booker and Beal have played just one game together this season before Friday.
Suns coach Frank Vogel said it was a sprained ankle and X-rays were negative.
“Injuries are a part of the game,” Vogel said. “I’m disappointed for him. You could see the disappointment on his face in the back. That’s my biggest concern, keeping him lifted. He’ll get back soon enough, but it’s been a frustrating injury type of season for him.”
Shawn Marion was honored with a place in the Suns' Ring of Honor following the game.
Marion — a four-time All-Star — spent the first 8 1/2 seasons of his career with the Suns, teaming with fellow stars Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash to advance to the Western Conference Finals in 2005 and 2006.
Marion averaged 18.4 points and 10 rebounds with the Suns.
Knicks: At Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Suns: Host Washington on Sunday night.
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