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Jalen Brunson leads Knicks past Warriors for eighth straight win

The evening began with large pockets of Warriors fans loudly celebrating every Golden State basket. By the end of the night, those Golden State supporters had left Madison Square Garden early.

There was no reason for them to hang around, not after the Knicks had treated the shorthanded defending world champions like the junior varsity. In the final seconds of this one-sided romp, the Garden sounded the way it is supposed to sound: With a deafening roar for the home team.

The Knicks received multiple rousing ovations in the final minute after pushing their NBA-leading win streak to eight with a 132-94 beat-down of the Stephen Curry-less Warriors, beating Golden State for the first time at MSG in nine tries.

It became such a blowout in the fourth quarter, Tom Thibodeau did the unthinkable.

He sat down.

Jalen Brunson drives to the basket during the Knicks’ 132-94 blowout win over the Warriors.
Robert Sabo

“That’s crazy,” joked Julius Randle, who produced a stellar all-around effort of 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. “Because Obi [Toppin] told me. I’ve never seen that in Thibs’ three seasons here. … He was probably so uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to do.”

The intense and demanding Thibodeau had every reason to enjoy this performance. Six Knicks (18-13) scored in double figures, led by 22 points from Immanuel Quickley and 21 points by Jalen Brunson, and they piled up 27 assists on 45 made field goals. As a team, the Knicks shot a robust 51.7 percent from the field, hit 17 3-pointers and smashed the Warriors on the glass, 47-29. Golden State (15-17) stars Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole were held to 13 of 30 shooting, with Quentin Grimes (19 points, four assists) and Co. yet again defending the perimeter at a high level.

“We have a lot of players on this team who are capable of having monster games,” Brunson said.

Immanuel Quickley, who scored 22 points, shoots a jumper during the Knicks' blowout win.
Immanuel Quickley, who scored 22 points, shoots a jumper during the Knicks’ blowout win.
Robert Sabo

During this win streak, that has become more apparent. The Knicks aren’t just winning, they are cruising. Of the eight wins, six have come by double figures and four by at least 19 points. Five opponents have been held under 100 points. The defense has been stingy and the 3-point shooting, at 37.1 percent, has significantly improved.

“I think with anything, when you see something working you want to repeat it as much as possible,” Randle said.

After averaging over 27 points on the recent 3-0 road trip, Brunson picked up where he left off. He scored 16 points in the opening half on a variety of midrange jumpers, and went on a personal 9-0 run in the second quarter that gave the Knicks their largest lead of the first half at 57-43.

Mitchell Robinson slams one home during the Knicks' dominant victory.
Mitchell Robinson slams one home during the Knicks’ dominant victory.
Robert Sabo

Brunson used the pass instead of the shot in the third quarter, stacking up four assists in the early portion of the period as the Knicks threatened to run the Warriors off the Garden floor. After hitting a jumper, Brunson set up a Grimes 3-pointer and Barrett layup on consecutive possessions, keying a 16-6 run that pushed the Knicks lead to a then-game-high 21. It nearly doubled from there, ending in a 38-point rout.

“The Knicks are in a good groove right now. They totally outplayed us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

It was another loose locker room afterwards, players joking around. Mitchell Robinson said Barrett, in a shiny, black outfit, looked like a Backstreet Boy. From across the room, Barrett interrupted Grimes’ interview to make sure the young star was going to be able to play on Wednesday after tweaking his ankle (the answer was yes). Everyone is having fun these days.

“The vibes are always better when you win, you know what I mean?” Barrett said. “So, we’re winning. We’re playing together. We’re having fun.”

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