Knicks bounce back with 109-94 victory over Rockets, advance to 7-2 since OG Anunoby trade

OG Anunoby left his feet.

Madison Square Garden followed suit.

Isaiah Hartenstein rejected Houston star Jalen Green at the rim, catalyzing an electrifying sequence that cemented the Knicks’ 109-94 victory over the Rockets on Wednesday. They are now 7-2 since the deal that sent RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to Toronto for Anunoby.

Josh Hart wrestled the ball away after Hartenstein’s block, then threw the rock up-court to Julius Randle, who dimed Anunoby with a spinning, no-look touch pass for a two-handed fast-break dunk that brought The Garden to its feet.

Anunoby’s dunk put the Knicks up 14, plus another one after he made the free throw for the foul call on Houston’s Alperen Sengun.

As Anunoby hung on the rim to ensure a safe landing, The Garden crowd erupted for its loudest cheer of the night.

Shortly after, it broke out into “O-G” chants.

And two possessions later, those same fans chanted “M-V-P” when Jalen Brunson made a key crunch-time bucket to help keep the Rockets at bay.

In his first game back after missing two straight with a calf injury, Brunson hung 30 points, including back-to-back and-ones with under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

And after the poor performances the Knicks put forth with Brunson watching from the sidelines, his return re-established how good New York can be when its floor general is on the court.

Brunson did not get the benefit of the whistle — a common occurrence for the six-foot-one guard who attacks the rim with regularity. Against a physical Rockets defense coached by former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, Brunson hit the ground more times than you can count on both hands, including one occasion where he was hip-checked into the scorer’s table.

On another play, he was clearly fouled on a baseline mid-range jump shot but still made the shot, then sprawled out onto the floor in disbelief of the lock of a whistle before getting back on defense.

Randle also played with some pep in his step after draining his first shot — a corner three in the early minutes of the first quarter. He finished with a game-high 31 points, nine rebounds and four assists on the night and shot four-of-eight from downtown.

Hart came off the bench and logged 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Anunoby scored 15 points and hit a critical pair of back-to-back threes in the third quarter. Randle and Brunson each dimed Anunoby on his consecutive threes after forcing the Rocket defense to collapse, which left Anunoby wide-open on back-to-back plays.

Quentin Grimes also hit a pair of threes off the bench for 11 points.

New York’s victory was impressive, but the organization still has roster questions to answer.

The Knicks bench entered Wednesday night ranking third-worst in scoring at around 26 points per game. Against the Rockets, Grimes scored 11, Hart scored 10, but no other players logged points, including Miles McBride, who cooled off from three-point range and missed all three of his attempts from downtown.

As a temporary solution, the Knicks ran the second-unit offense through Hartenstein, who played the entire second half, including the beginning of the fourth quarter with the stars on the bench. Hartenstein found Hart on a backdoor cut, then found Grimes for an open three.

Fred VanVleet scored 24 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field, and Sengun added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

The Knick bench outscored the Rockets’ second unit, 21-15.

Wednesday’s victory was the second game in a seven-game New York stand that features a pitstop at Barclays Center against the Nets. The Knicks are also on an extended stretch of 12 home outings in 14 games.

Next up, they host the Washington Wizards in the second leg of a back-to-back on Thursday.

After that, they host Barrett, Quickley and the Toronto Raptors in their first game back at The Garden since the trade.