Jalen Brunson’s Big Night Helped The Knicks Blow Out The Pacers In Game 5

The New York Knicks are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite getting annihilated in Game 4 by the Indiana Pacers and looking like the team was completely out of gas, New York found a second wind as the series returned to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night for Game 5. Behind the latest monster playoff performance from Jalen Brunson, the Knicks were able to pick up a 121-91 win to take a 3-2 series lead.

The very early part of Game 5 looked like it had the potential to go similarly to Game 4, as the Pacers looked like the more crisp and more in sync team as their lead got up to as many as seven points in the opening five minutes. And then, the Knicks caught fire, going on a 15-3 run to get the Garden into the game and put a much-needed pep in their step.

While N.Y.’s lead only got up to as many as six points and didn’t give them much of a cushion, the injection of confidence after the team got blown off the floor in the previous game was obvious, particularly on offense. And by the end of the first, the Knicks held on to a 38-32 lead.

In the second quarter, Brunson really started to impose himself on the game. The talismanic Knicks guard scored 18 of his 28 first half points in the period, and nearly outscored the Pacers as a team in the second. His 28 points in a single half were a new playoff franchise record.

New York’s size and physicality was a huge, huge issue for Indiana throughout the first half, as the Knicks absolutely pummeled the Pacers on the glass — they had more offensive rebounds (12) than Indiana had rebounds (11) — and completely dominated in the paint, with Brunson and co. getting to the rim and either scoring or grabbing the offensive board on a miss. By the time the two teams went into the locker room, the Knicks found themselves up, 69-54, behind Brunson’s big half and 12 points from both Josh Hart and Deuce McBride. The Pacers’ only player in double-figures was Pascal Siakam, who had 13.

With their backs against the wall at the start of the third quarter, Indiana came out on fire. More specifically, Myles Turner was a huge problem for New York, as the Pacers started the period on a 9-1 run thanks to the big man knocking down three triples in 1:04 to cut New York’s lead to seven.

But after a timeout, the Knicks settled down and immediately took off. The team immediately ripped off a 19-1 run that completely took the Pacers out of the game — Indiana went a full seven minutes of game time between field goals — and put themselves on the precipice of a win, as they took a 96-75 lead into the fourth.

Once again, Indiana was able to start a quarter with a run to just raise the anxiety in the building. This time, the Pacers scored nine consecutive points to get New York’s lead down to 12 … but once again, the Knicks quickly found a response, this time in the form of a 13-2 run to get the lead back up to 23. Indiana couldn’t lay a glove on New York after that, and the final two minutes of the game were spent with one of the most unusual sights you’ll see: Brunson, Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo all sitting on the bench.

Brunson’s 44 points, seven assists, and four rebounds led the way for New York, while Hart and Alec Burks both scored 18 and McBride went for 17. The unsung hero on the night was Isaiah Hartenstein, who had seven points, 17 rebounds (12 on the offensive glass), and five assists. Siakam’s 22 points and eight rebounds paced the Pacers, while Turner had 16. After looking like he started to find his footing in the series on the heels of a stinker in Game 1, Tyrese Haliburton struggled to impose himself on the game with 13 points on only 5-for-9 shooting with five assists.

The series will head back to Indiana for Game 6, where the Pacers won the previous two games these teams played. Game 6 will take place on May 17 on ESPN.