Knicks guard Jalen Brunson reacts after sinking a three-point basket...

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson reacts after sinking a three-point basket against the Nets in the second half at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The last time the Knicks won a game against their crosstown rivals, Jalen Brunson was in Dallas, Kyrie Irving’s biggest controversy involved believing the Earth was flat, and Spencer Dinwiddie was a Net.

Well, that last one still is true, but only after a three-year jaunt in Washington and Dallas.

Suffice to say, it was a long nine-game losing streak during the last three years-plus, but it finally came to an end against the new-era Nets on Monday night.

Brunson scored 40 points and the Knicks dominated in the second half of a 124-106 win at Madison Square Garden — a stark reminder of how much firepower the Nets lost after trading Irving and Kevin Durant last week.

It was a reminder, too, that Brunson likely is this year’s most prominent All-Star snub, something Tom Thibodeau and Josh Hart didn’t mind bringing up.

“It’s pretty obvious, I think, to all of us because we see him every night,’ Thibodeau said when asked if Brunson should be an All-Star. “The unfortunate part of the All-Star part is that there aren’t enough spots, so inevitably, someone deserving gets left off. In my eyes, he’s an All- Star.”

Brunson reached the 40-point mark for the second time in his last six games and the third time in his last 18. He is averaging 30.1 points in his last 20 games and has reached the 30-point mark 10 times in that span.

He’s also the first Knick and the 19th player in NBA history to score at least 40 points with zero turnovers and shoot at least 70% from the field in a game. He was 15-for-21 overall and 6-for-9 from three-point range.

“It’s who he is,” Thibodeau said. “He’s going to give the game whatever it needs. If we need more scoring, he’s scoring . . . He just gives the team a lot of confidence.”

Hart had 27 points off the bench in his second game for the Knicks, shooting 10-for-14 overall and 4-for-6 from outside the arc. Julius Randle had 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Dinwiddie had 28 points for the Nets, who were outscored 66-45 in the second half.

“J.B. caught fire, and it was over from there,” said Dorian Finney-Smith, who played with Brunson on the Mavericks last season and was acquired by the Nets in the Irving trade. “I feel like playing with him last year, especially when Luka [Doncic] wasn’t on the court, he showed glimpses of being one of those guys [who can have a game like this].”

The Knicks (32-27) are one game behind the sixth-place Heat (32-26) and two games behind the fifth-place Nets (33-24) in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets were up 61-58 at the break before the Knicks kicked off the third quarter on a 12-2 run. Brunson looked unstoppable, scoring 17 points in a 35-22 third quarter and 36 points in the first three periods.

“Obviously, seeing him play in college, he was amazing,” said Hart, Brunson’s Villanova teammate. “I knew he would have a long career, but I didn’t think it would be how he plays now. He’s someone who should be an All-Star and he’s playing at an All-Star level. It’s amazing to see it just because I know the work he puts in.”

Brunson didn’t seem too put out by the All-Star snub, or even impressed by his increasingly impressive performances.

“I never really thought to myself what I could or could not do. I think I told myself if I continue to work, continue to get better,” he said. “It’s also a credit to my teammates. They’ve been nothing but amazing in welcoming me with open arms and the coaching staff has confidence in me as well. With all that confidence poured into me, I’m just thankful. I just go out there and play as best I can.”

Notes & quotes: Thibodeau said Mitchell Robinson (returning from thumb surgery) still hasn’t progressed to contact, though the team is hopeful that he’ll get there after the All-Star break. Thibodeau could not say for sure that Robinson will be back in the Knicks’ first game after the break against the Wizards on Feb. 24 . . . Seth Curry (adductor) will do more core work Tuesday and might be able to play on Wednesday, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. He hasn’t played since Feb. 4.


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