Chicago – Bruised foot? What a foot bruise.
Jalen Bronson sure doesn’t look like someone who was strapped down with an injury on Wednesday night. A decision regarding playing time, Bronson would not miss playing in front of family and friends near the place where he spent a large part of his childhood.
After resorting to an isolation ball with Julius Randle to shut down regulation, the Knicks put the ball into Bronson’s hands in the extra session, and he didn’t disappoint. He scored seven of his 30 points in the final five minutes, as the Knicks defeated the Bulls, 128-120, at the United Center after taking a five-point lead in the final 2:07 of regulation. The victory, the Knicks’ sixth road win in eight attempts, gave them a five-game winning streak and moved them to two games over . 500 at 15-13 for the first time since late October.
Quentin Grimes hit arguably the game’s biggest shot, a three-pointer that deflected off the front of the rim and fell to give the Knicks a six-point advantage with 1:04 left. Then Bronson hit another 3-pointer after leaving Alex Caruso on the floor with a crossover. Showing rare affection, he celebrated the big shot by shouting at his high school coach, Pat Ambrose, and two of his best friends who were crouching under the basket.
Bronson described the evening as “very special”.
Most recently, on Monday, Bronson was in a walking boot after Davion Mitchell awkwardly landed a right-footer in the Knicks’ win over the Kings on Sunday. He didn’t finish that game and wasn’t able to practice on Tuesday. But against the Bulls, he scored 39 minutes and was at his best in overtime.
In hindsight, it seemed so ridiculous that there was even a question about his status.
“I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I’m healthy, but I didn’t want to stop today,” said Bronson, who also had seven assists. “Me as a captain, if I can walk and I can play, I have to bring him in.”
As a group, the Knicks came into overtime, especially on the defensive side. They held the Bulls to just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting after allowing 58 percent shooting through the first four quarters. It was similar to their previous four victories when the Knicks faced three opponents under 100 points.
“It was great to see,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “I’d rather see her earlier.”
Randle scored a team-high 31 points—his third 30-point attempt in four games—to go along with 13 rebounds and seven assists, and RJ Barrett had 22 before fending off late in the game. Grimes had 14 points, five rebounds and a team-best rating plus 14. DeMar DeRozan scored 32 for the Bulls (11-16), who snapped their three-game home winning streak.
The Knicks led by as many as 14 points in the first half and were up by five in the final two minutes. But they were unable to finish the bullpen in regulation as Randle waved the baseline, leaving Chicago with 0.7 seconds left to win it. Despite this, Randle read the play well, and got in between Patrick Williams and Edge, forcing overtime.
“Sometimes you have to win matches in different ways, and the end result is finding a way to win,” said Thibodeau.
The Knicks have left no doubts since then. Bronson made sure of it, bad right foot and all, as he produced his fourth 30-point game of the season.
‘It says a lot about him,’ said Thibodeau. ‘Coming here, [getting] Multiple treatments each day. This becomes his game, becomes his practice. He’s been through many different things. He has a strategy for everything. He just gets out there and gets it done.”
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