Knicks takeaways from Wednesday's 117-114 win over Spurs, including Jalen Brunson's regular season career-high 38 points

Jan 4, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden.
Jan 4, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks started the game out strong and rode Jalen Brunson's regular season career-high 38 points to hold on and beat the San Antonio Spurs, 117-114.

With RJ Barrett still sidelined, Tom Thibodeau went with a starting five of Brunson, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson.

Here are the key takeaways...

- Brunson got out to a hot start and made his first four shots as the Knicks got out to a 12-4 lead over the Spurs early on in the first quarter. Quickley stole a bad pass from Romeo Langford and took it down the court for an easy dunk. San Antonio's Josh Richardson and Zach Collins brought them back to down four, but Randle blocked Richardson's layup off the glass to ignite The Garden crowd.

Isaiah Hartenstein grabbed an offensive board and Quickley found Brunson for three to go up 29-20 with under three minutes left in the quarter. Brunson missed a jumper, but Randle was there to clean it up on the putback dunk with the clock winding down. The Knicks led the Spurs 39-29 after the first, as Brunson scored 13 points and Randle added in nine with six rebounds. New York shot 51.9 percent from the field, going 14-for-27 and 4-for-9 from beyond the arc.

- Robinson recorded his third foul just three minutes into the quarter and was replaced by Randle. The Spurs started the second off strong with a 11-0 run to go up 42-41 with 7:53 left and force Thibs to call timeout. Evan Fournier tied the game with a three-pointer, and Quickley gave the Knicks the lead back with a three of his own. Brunson scored his first points of the quarter with a baseline jumper, but Richardson came back with a three in the corner, as the Knicks led 53-52 with 3:17 remaining.

- Brunson scored on back-to-back possessions to help the Knicks close out on a 7-0 run, giving them a 62-55 lead at halftime even though San Antonio outscored New York in the quarter by three. The Villanova product went 9-for-14 from the field in the first half for 19 points, while Randle recorded 16 points at the break. Richardson kept the Spurs in the game by scoring 14 off the bench through two quarters.

- The Knicks extended their lead to double-digits early in the third thanks to a Grimes three-pointer. Brunson then buried a corner three as the shot clock expired, and nearly made a viral highlight on the next possession by crossing up Tre Jones, but he missed the jump shot. Robinson picked up his fourth foul about midway through the third, as Keldon Johnson made the foul shot, but the big man came back and dunked it underneath to go up 79-71.

- Missed free throws and turnovers began to hurt the Knicks, as Randle missed a freebie and Quickley stepped on the baseline with the team up by just three. The pair made up for it with Randle scoring on three straight possessions and Quickley attacking the rim for a layup. Randle then nailed a step-back jumper to beat the buzzer and give New York a 94-89 lead through three quarters.

- Brunson made a layup to give him 31 points on the night and push the Knicks lead to 104-99 four minutes into the final quarter. Johnson then tied the game at 107-107 with a corner three-pointer and 5:20 remaining. San Antonio took a two point lead, but Grimes woke up the crowd with a three and a couple of possessions later, Brunson beat his defender for a layup to regain the lead by one. Brunson then hit a mid-ranger to give him a career-best (regular season) 36 points and the Knicks a 114-111 lead with 1:55 left. Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan was called for a five second violation with a chance to tie the game or go-ahead. Fournier then made one FT, but missed the second to give San Antonio another chance, but Johnson couldn't get the shot off in time.

Brunson finished with 38 points on 17-for-27 shooting, including 3-for-7 from deep, to go along with seven rebounds and six assists in 40 minutes. Randle recorded his fifth straight 20-point, 10-rebound game with 25 and 13 plus three assists, three steals and four blocks. Quickley chipped in 15 points and Grimes added 14 points.


What's next

The Knicks will travel north of the border and take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday at 7:30 p.m.