Knicks' Jalen Brunson defends Tom Thibodeau after ugly loss to Mavericks: 'It's on us'

Dec 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) controls the ball against Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden.
Dec 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) controls the ball against Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It was another lackluster performance from the Knicks at The Garden on Saturday afternoon as New York fell to the Dallas Mavericks, 121-100.

What started as a promising game against a top-tier Western Conference squad -- the team was up in the opening minutes of the third quarter -- fell apart in that frame. The Knicks were outscored 41-15 in the third and 69-41 in the second half, which led to boos from the home crowd and New York falling to 10-13 on the season, their low mark for the season so far.

“Got to give them credit,” Jalen Brunson said of the Mavericks after the game. “They just wanted it more. That’s just it. They just wanted it more.”

Damning words from the team’s high-profile acquisition, but it’s very similar to what Brunson said after the Knicks’ lopsided loss to the Brooklyn Nets in early November. But is that a player issue or is it squarely on Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau?

“Coach Thibs has done a great job,” Brunson said. “He’s been able to put us in positions where we can succeed. And I think he knows where to put those puzzle pieces and It’s just on us to execute and do things.”

SNY’s Ian Begley reports that the entire organization has been under internal scrutiny since the team’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And the scrutiny goes further than Thibodeau, but to GM Leon Rose as well.

Brunson, who scored just 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting against the Mavericks, puts the Knicks’ struggles this season on himself and his teammates.

“It’s on us,” He said. “We’re the players out there not battling. It’s his job to put us in position, which he’s done.”

A quarter through the season, and the Knicks sit as the No. 11 seed in the Eastern Conference, which would put them out of even competing in the play-in game. But if the team wants to turn things around, they’ll have to do it soon as they take on Donovan Mitchell and the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers at MSG on Sunday night.