East Notes: Knicks, Jalen Brunson, Nets, Magic

Knicks

Point guard Jalen Brunson indicated his career-high 38 points in Wednesday’s win over the Spurs didn’t really matter to him.

“Whatever it takes to win,” Brunson said. “I could have 38 or I could have three points. If we win that’s all I really care about.”

  • Along the way, Brunson earned some fairly high praise from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “He’s got it all,” Popovich said. “He’s got the skill, but he’s got the toughness. He’s got the basketball IQ to go with it. Just a hell of a competitor.”
  • Forward Obi Toppin was available for the first time in 13 games, but did not play. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Toppin would need to do more at practice before he’s game-ready. That said, forward Julius Randle has been even better with more minutes, so playing time could be sparse for Toppin regardless.

Nets

Star forward Kevin Durant scored 44 points, but the Nets’ 12-game win streak is history, courtesy of Wednesday’s 121-112 road loss to the Bulls.

Throughout, the Nets undoubtedly had their chances.

“We could not get over the hump, and a big part of it was we were playing catch-up the whole night,” coach Jacque Vaughn said, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “The 40-point first quarter set the tone. So tip your hat to them; they came to play. They were pretty desperate to get a win, and we needed that same desperation.”

  • Forward Royce O’Neale added that the Nets had only themselves to blame. “It was on us,” O’Neale told Lewis. “We had a couple of letdowns, mistakes on the defensive end that we could’ve avoided and that they took advantage of. … So it’s just learning from it and being more aggressive and more alert.”

Magic

Rookie center Paolo Banchero had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Magic topped the visiting Thunder to snap a three-game skid.

But as good as Banchero was offensively, he said the Magic holding OKC to 30 points in the paint was a bigger deal.

“That’s our calling card as a team,” Banchero told reporters. “If we’re playing good defense, we’re usually playing good offense. Tonight keeping them out of the paint was the biggest thing we had to do. They hit some 3s, but they kill teams in the paint. That was our main focus and we did a good job.”

  • Coach Jamahl Mosley was particularly pleased with Banchero’s seven assists. “The great part about him is his ability to trust his teammates to find the open man, to want to make the right play,” Mosley said. “Anytime he’s out there he’s looking to make and create for his team and make winning plays.”
  • Forward/center Bol Bol missed his first game of the season after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

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