Jalen Brunson returns from injury, sparks Knicks to 2-0 lead over Pacers

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NEW YORK — Jalen Brunson returned from a right foot injury to score 24 of his 29 points in the second half, leading the New York Knicks to a 130-121 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

On the anniversary of Willis Reed‘s dramatic emergence from the locker room before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals to lead the Knicks to their first title, Brunson sent the Madison Square Garden crowd into a frenzy when he came out to warm up at halftime after missing the entire second quarter while the Pacers surged ahead to a double-figure lead.

He fell short of becoming the second player in NBA history to score 40 or more points in five straight playoff games, but he gave the Knicks everything they needed to move halfway to their first Eastern Conference finals appearance since 2000.

OG Anunoby added a career playoff-high 28 points before leaving with a left hamstring injury in the third quarter for the injury-riddled Knicks, who have already lost three key players to season-ending injuries.

But they got Brunson back and received huge efforts again from his two Villanova teammates. Donte DiVincenzo scored 28 points and Josh Hart had 19 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for the No. 2-seeded Knicks.

Tyrese Haliburton rebounded from a poor Game 1 with 34 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Pacers, who finished the game without coach Rick Carlisle after he got two technical fouls and was ejected.

The series moves to Indiana for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday.

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