Jalen Brunson tests wrist at practice, 'questionable' for Knicks vs. Rockets
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Whither Jalen Brunson?
That is a question whose answer is still to be determined.
The Knicks point guard participated in practice Sunday at the MSG Training Center but is “questionable” for Monday night’s game against Houston at the Garden with a sprained right wrist, coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“He did everything, so he seemed fine,” said Thibodeau, who was unsure whether Brunson received an MRI or X-ray.
Brunson missed the Knicks’ 111-106 loss to the Magic in Orlando on Thursday after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s loss to the Heat in Miami.
He had missed five full games and half of another spanning March 5-14 with a bone bruise in his left foot.
His first full game back from the foot injury was the win over Denver on March 18 in which he scored 24 points and handed out five assists in 32 minutes. He then had 23 points and 10 assists in a loss to Minnesota and 25 points and six assists against Miami, playing about 37 minutes in each game.
The Knicks had two days off after the loss to the Magic, so Sunday was their first day back at work and their first chance to see how Brunson responded to the rest.
“He looked pretty good,” Immanuel Quickley said. “We shot — he was shooting with me — [and] he looked pretty good. We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
Entering the final seven games of the regular season, the Knicks (42-33) are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, two games ahead of the Nets and Miami, both 40-35. The top six teams in each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot and the seventh through 10th seeds are relegated to the play-in round.
Having Brunson, who is averaging 23.8 points and 6.2 assists, back in the lineup certainly would bolster the Knicks’ chances of avoiding the play-in round.
Regardless of whether Brunson returns for Monday night’s game, Thibodeau was emphatic that his team’s success lies in its roots.
“You don’t replace a guy like Jalen individually,” he said. “You have to do that collectively. And that’s where we [have] to rely on our defense and our rebounding and sharing the ball and doing it that way.”
Against the Heat and Magic, defense failed the Knicks. Miami shot 57% from the field overall (45-for-79), including 57.1% from three-point range (16-for-28). The Magic connected on 46% of their shots from the field (40-for-87) and 40.6% of their three-point attempts (13-for-32).
“Some of those shots guys were making [were] tough, contested shots,” RJ Barrett said. “I think that comes with just everybody fighting and competing.”
He added that the Knicks have to “make sure that we get out there and take care [of assignments]. Don’t let the shooters that we know make shots, don’t let them get any good looks.”
Notes & quotes: The Knicks announced the signing of guard DaQuan Jefferies, who is averaging 21.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 21 games for Westchester of the G League.