Knicks’ Brunson Sets Career Landmark in Team USA Exhibition Win (Highlights)

AUG 8, 2023 | Sports Illustrated

New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson set a de facto career best in Team USA’s first of five preparation games for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Rather than getting bored in a Monday night blowout, Jalen Brunson got boards instead.

The New York Knicks point guard set an unofficial career high in his first excursion with the primary United States men’s national basketball team, a 117-74 shellacking of Puerto Rico in Las Vegas. Monday’s win was the first of five tune-up games for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in Asia.

In the win, Brunson pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds, which would set a career-best at the NBA level. For all he accomplished with the Knicks in his debut campaign with the team, Brunson never pulled in 10 boards in a single game this season and has only four to date in his five-year tenure, the last coming in March 2022 with the Dallas Mavericks.

Brunson was also one of seven Americans to reach double figures in scoring, tallying nine of his 11 points in a dominant second half. Puerto Rico was able to keep pace in the early going and trailed by only seven at halftime but Team USA won the second half by a whopping 67-31 margin.

“We’re still getting to know each other, but everyone’s really putting egos aside just to win and we’ve got a lot of high-character guys,” Brunson said after the win, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. “That’s the No. 1 priority for every single one of them.”

Brunson’s plus/minus of plus-23 was also best among the five American starters and second-best overall behind only reserve and Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton (plus-24). His dozen-rebound tally was part of a 66-31 American advantage on the glass. Brunson’s fellow Knick Josh Hart did not play on Monday night, listed as out due to “rest.”

Anthony Edwards and Cam Johnson led the Americans with 15 points each while Haliburton dished out 12 assists. Tremont Waters, a 2019 Boston Celtics draft pick and a G League Rookie of the Year, paced Puerto Rico with 17 points in defeat.

The Americans now move to a Spanish doubleheader in Malaga this weekend, one that tips off against Luka Doncic and Slovenia on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1).