Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) is helped off the court...

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) is helped off the court after an injury in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Cleveland.  Credit: AP/Sue Ogrocki

The day after, having avoided the worst-case scenarios, the Knicks still offered little clarity on Jalen Brunson’s immediate future, listing him as questionable for Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden with a left knee contusion.

But on Sunday, they again showed that even when bad news arrives — and it has in bunches lately — they find a way.

Down four starters after Brunson crumpled to the floor in the opening minute, the Knicks beat the Cavaliers on the road, 107-98, reinforcing the confidence established in last season’s playoff run.

Even with the loss of Brunson, the most vital piece the Knicks have, they again proved that’s not enough to stop this team.

When Brunson exited 47 seconds into the game, Deuce McBride entered and never took a breather, playing the remaining 47 minutes and 13 seconds.

Donte DiVincenzo took over the scoring role with 28 points and got help off the bench from Bojan Bogdanovic’s 20 points, not to mention McBride’s 16.

Josh Hart did just about everything, posting a triple-double that included 19 rebounds.

Tom Thibodeau has preached for years, even before coaching any of the current players, that the team always has enough to win. But the toughness to actually pull it off when the injuries mount and so many pieces are missing comes from somewhere other than cliches from the coach.

And Thibodeau knows where.

“From our players,” he said. “It’s the makeup of the players. So I think that that’s important. I think Leon [Rose, the team president] and his staff have done a good job of identifying those guys. I love our team. I love how hard they work. I love how they care about winning, how they’re willing to sacrifice for each other. That stuff goes a long way.”

The players seemed to enjoy this win, having defied the odds and overcome another absence. Afterward, as a crowd gathered around Hart, Precious Achiuwa walked past. Eyeing the huge media contingent, he joked about Hart being a star, and Hart responded by deadpanning, “Since Jalen didn’t want to play . . . ”

“It’s huge,” DiVincenzo said. “You look at it, we’re down four starters, they’re down one starter [Donovan Mitchell]. You look at the matchups and the thing about us, we’re gritty. We’re collectively together and everybody wants everybody to succeed.”

In a league in which the message continually sent is that you need stars — multiple stars — to compete for a title, the Knicks are trying to prove something else. While it’s been debated whether they already have the stars in place in Brunson and Julius Randle, whatever those two are, they weren’t available Sunday, and the Knicks still took down one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.

The Cavs didn’t have Mitchell, but they did have the rest of their starting lineup and plenty of motivation, and the Knicks still got the best of them.

“Thibs says it all the time: Next-man-up mentality,” Hart said. “But when someone goes down, you gotta try to find a way. And obviously, they’ve been playing really well. They have guys out, so we can’t make that excuse. We just gotta go out there and just play hard. We had a great game plan, and we gotta go out there and play our game and execute.

“I think you’re seeing guys on every team want to compete. No matter what team it is, you see guys as competitors. As hoopers, we always want a bigger role. We always want to go out there and show what we can do. And then when guys go out, that’s an opportunity for us to step into those kinds of roles.

“Sometimes when you have like six, seven guys and you’re able to just really play free, playing without a conscience, because at the end of the day, can’t really sub you out. So you just got to go out there and just play with confidence. I think we did that today as a team.”

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