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Brunson sinks 8 3s, scores 31 points as Knicks hold off Hunter, Hawks 126-120

ATLANTA (AP) — A strong supporting cast helped set up Jalen Brunson for the best 3-point shooting game of his career.

Brunson made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 31 points to power the New York Knicks to a 126-120 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Brunson enjoyed strong support from RJ Barrett, who had 26 points, and Julius Randle, who added 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

“If the ball is in the paint and everyone is making plays, we have a lot of guys to attack and create for themselves,” Brunson said. “A lot of people draw a lot of attention, so when we play off each other it makes life a lot easier.”

Brunson made 11 of 21 shots from the field, including 8 of 12 from beyond the 3-point line.

“I made maybe one or two bad 3s, but they were all kind of in rhythm,” Brunson said. “It was the right shot at the right moment.”

The Knicks made 20 3s and had 30 assists.

“I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “We got great performances from a number of people.”

Mitchell Robinson led the Knicks with 13 rebounds and four steals, while Quentin Grimes was the leader of the defense that held Atlanta's Trae Young to 18 points while making 4 of 16 shots from the field.

Brunson quickly recovered after shooting just 6 of 21, including 3 of 8 on 3s, in the Knicks' 108-104 loss to Boston in their season opener on Wednesday night.

“I knew I had to continue to trust the work ethic, trust everything I do,” Brunson said. “Nights like that happen. It's nothing to dwell on. ... It was all about just focusing on the next day and moving on.”

The Knicks couldn't put the game away until the final seconds but still Hawks coach Quin Snyder bemoaned his team's “lack of execution in a lot of situations.”

“We've got to be more focused in the course of a game,” Snyder said. “We've got to communicate to one another in order to do those things.”

Barrett contributed two baskets in the final four minutes after Atlanta closed within two points. Barrett's jumper gave the Knicks a 118-114 lead with 2:16 remaining. Randle added a 3-pointer to push the advantage to seven points and iced the win with three free throws in the final 16 seconds.

The Knicks (1-1) took a big lead of 11 points at 105-94 on a dunk by Isaiah Hartenstein. The Hawks answered with a 10-0 run.

De'Andre Hunter led the Hawks (0-2) with 27 points. Dejounte Murray had 18 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 16. Young had 12 assists but continued his poor shooting to start the season. He was 4 of 19 in Atlanta’s 116-110 season-opening loss at Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Jalen Johnson, coming off a career-high 21 points against Charlotte, provided early fireworks for Atlanta with two first-half jams. Johnson had 11 points.

Clint Capela had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Hawks.


Knicks: Visit New Orleans on Saturday.

Hawks: Visit Milwaukee on Sunday.