Anunoby shines with pair of big-time dunks in Knicks' win
Anunoby shines with pair of big-time dunks in Knicks' win (Credit: )

Royals eliminate RCB to set up knockout against SRH

NEW YORK -- — The New York Knicks will be at Madison Square Garden to begin the first round of the playoffs. They could even be on their home court again to start the second round. Jalen Brunson had 30 points and 11 assists after a slow start, OG Anunoby scored all of his 15 points in the third quarter and the Knicks beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-107 on Friday night, clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. “I heard the lights are really bright in MSG during that time, so that’s really big for us,” forward Josh Hart said. Hart added 16 points and Mitchell Robinson also had 15 for the Knicks, who guaranteed themselves a top-four finish in the East. Shortly after beating Brooklyn, New York moved into a tie for second in the conference with Milwaukee at 49-32 when the Bucks lost at Oklahoma City. The Bucks have the head-to-head tiebreaker, so the Knicks will need to beat Chicago at home Sunday and hope the Bucks lose their finale at Orlando. “We want to go through the finish line so that’s the way we’re looking at it,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, “and we want to improve and play our best.” The Knicks won their fourth straight overall and completed a season sweep of the Nets that tied the all-time series between the local rivals at 107 wins apiece. Brooklyn had won nine straight, never losing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in uniform, but New York has won all six meetings since both were traded in the middle of last season. Anunoby helped turn around a game the Nets led by 17 in the first half. Besides shooting 6 for 7 in the period, he helped hold Cam Thomas scoreless after the Brooklyn guard scored 22 in the first half. The Knicks improved to 19-3 when Anunoby plays. Thomas finished with 41 points. Trenton Watford added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Nets, who had won six of nine. The Knicks were sluggish to start a night after winning at NBA-leading Boston. They fell behind 11-0 and missed 12 of their first 14 shots, and the Nets raced to a 30-14 lead. New York then rang up 70 points over the next two quarters. Brunson finally got on the board with 4:16 left in the half, and quickly had nine before the 3-minute mark. The Knicks trimmed it to 63-54 at the half, then came out with a 9-0 run that tied it for the first time on Anunoby's steal and dunk. “Got to give them credit. They didn’t make anything easy and I finally just woke up,” Brunson said. New York outscored Brooklyn 30-13 in the third and went up by 11 in the fourth before the Nets got it close again. Interim coach Kevin Ollie had the Nets intentionally foul Robinson down the stretch, but he went 5 of 8 on his free throws during that span. “Kudos to Mitchell. He’s shooting 38% on the season, so he made them today and sometimes you’ve got to live with the coach’s decision,” Ollie said. “But I’m going to go with the percentages and it keeps the ball out of Brunson’s hands.” Words were exchanged between Anunoby and Thomas in the final seconds after Thomas knocked Brunson down while committing a foul. Both players were given technical fouls. The Nets played without starters and key rotation players such as Dennis Schroder, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cam Johnson and Dennis Smith Jr. Watford got his first start of the season and Jacob Gilyard made just his third appearance with the Nets after signing a two-way contract last month. UP NEXT Nets: Visit Philadelphia on Sunday. Knicks: Host Chicago on Sunday. ------ AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA