After an unsuccessful outing against his former team Saturday afternoon, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson sought to take some heat off coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brunson had a season-low 13 points and was minus-26 overall in his first game against Dallas since leaving in free agency.
The 21-point loss drew boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd as the Knicks suffered their seventh defeat in their last eight home games. Thibodeau has become a target for the fans, but Brunson insists the downturn isn’t his fault.
“Coach Thibs has done a great job,” Brunson said. “He’s been able to put us in positions where we need to succeed. I think he knows where to put those puzzle pieces. It’s just on us to actually execute and do things. So it’s just — I know he’s going to get a lot of the blame, guys are going to get some of the blame. It’s on us. We’re the players out there not battling. It’s his job to put us in positions, which he’s done.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Knicks will get a reminder of their most significant decision of the summer when Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers come to town Sunday night, Bondy adds. Team president Leon Rose’s refusal to part with a large amount of draft capital after extensive trade talks with Utah is looking like a “backfire,” according to Bondy.
- De’Anthony Melton is making an impact on defense for the Sixers after being acquired in a draft night trade, notes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Melton is second in the league with 2.0 steals per game and ranks first overall with a 3.6% steal percentage. “I think De’Anthony’s a very easy guy to play with,” coach Doc Rivers said. “… He defends. And I think guys who defend always have a little more longitude to do whatever. Guys respect that. You want to get respect in a locker room? Go stop somebody and you’ll get it, and I think De’Anthony has that.”
- Raptors guard Fred VanVleet isn’t overreacting to two bad road games, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. VanVleet said the losses at New Orleans and Brooklyn can be part of a growing experience. “I think we’ve got to learn how to be a team,” he said. “We have to learn to play together a little bit more, be professional, be a little bit more ready to go. You can find excuses in this league every night — there are a million of them — or you can show up and play the game the way it is supposed to be played.”