Brunson breaks hand in Game 7, laments end of Knicks’ run

Jalen Brunson reflects on the play where he fractured his hand and how proud he is of the Knicks despite their Game 7 loss to the Pacers. (1:35)

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NEW YORK — As he sat at the podium, his left hand and wrist immobilized after suffering a fracture in a season-ending 130-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson was asked if this season was a success.

“No,” he said, flatly.

Asked later why that was the case, he responded, “Did we win the championship? Did we get close?”

After a pause, he continued, “So, no. That’s my mindset.

“That’s just how it is.”

That could also apply to Brunson’s injury, which occurred in the third quarter when, he said, he swiped down at Tyrese Haliburton and felt something in his hand.

After a brief trip to the locker room, Brunson returned to the court for 14 seconds before checking back out with 3:02 to go in the third quarter and heading to the locker room for what would become the rest of both the game and New York’s season.

“I thought I just jammed it, to be honest with you,” Brunson said of briefly checking back into the game, only to leave again. “I looked down and knew something was wrong.”

For Brunson, it was a frustrating end — on both a personal and team level — to what was a fabulous season, one that included him finishing fifth in the NBA’s Most Valuable Player voting earlier this month. He finished with an average of 32.4 points across his 13 playoff games — second only to Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, whom he vanquished in the first round.

But after dealing with a foot injury earlier in this series, Brunson and the Knicks fell short against an Indiana team that set an NBA record for a playoff game by shooting 67.1% from the field in Game 7, per ESPN’s Stats & Information research.

“I would say there’s pros and cons to how I played,” Brunson said in evaluating his season. “The pros, obviously, are I played well individually at some points in the playoffs. The cons are that I didn’t play well enough to help my team move forward.

“You can say I got hurt in Game 7, I wasn’t playing well in Game 7. We had a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead, it’s just hard to look at things individually when you don’t help your team.”

Brunson, who is rarely willing to expand on much at the microphone, maintained that approach after this game. When asked about the possibility of signing an extension with New York this summer — he is eligible to ink a four-year, $156.5 million deal with the Knicks in July — Brunson cut off the question before it could be finished, saying, “I’ll talk about that another time.”

When asked about the ceiling of a healthy Knicks team — by the end of Game 7, New York was missing Brunson, Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic — he said, “We’ll talk about that next year.” However, when asked about the trajectory of the team, he admitted, “I think we’re making positive strides. We just need to make more.”

But, in typical fashion, he said he isn’t satisfied with his own game, even after what easily was the best season of his career. To that end, Brunson said he will be singularly focused on improving when he’s able to get into the gym this summer. whenever his fractured shooting hand heals.

“I go into the summer every year looking back on how I could be better as a player, to be the most complete player I can be,” Brunson said. “There’s obviously going to be a lot of things, X’s and O’s-wise, physically and other stuff I could do to be better. I think the most important thing that I need to do is to continue to just strive for perfection, just strive for perfection, and knowing that I’m never going to get there.

“Just, my mind says I just need to be better every single day. I don’t care what I’ve done as a player, it means nothing. … I’m going to go into this summer training to be better.”

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