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Jalen Brunson’s big night leads Knicks to emphatic tournament win over Wizards

WASHINGTON — The Knicks took over the game and the arena. 

Near the end of New York’s 120-99 breeze Friday night over the Wizards, the fans at Capitol One Arena, filling the occupied seats with blue and orange jerseys, erupted in a “Let’s Go Knicks” chant. 

The loudest chant of the night in the half-empty stands picked up again with about a minute remaining in the blowout. 

New York supporters tend to show out in D.C. and, especially these days, the Knicks are a lot easier to root for than the sad-sack Wizards. 

Even playing without two starters, Tom Thibodeau’s squad led wire-to-wire, getting 32 points from Jalen Brunson and 27 from Immanuel Quickley. 

It was a second straight victory for the Knicks (7-5), who have another very winnable game Saturday in Charlotte.

Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks puts up a shot against the Washington Wizards in the first half during an NBA In-Season Tournament.
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Against the Wizards (2-10), the score was relatively close until Brunson took over in the fourth quarter, spurring a 17-2 run that doomed the rebuilding home team. 

It also was an important victory for the In-Season Tournament.

After losing to Milwaukee in the opener two weeks prior, the Knicks would have lost almost all hope of advancing out of the group stage with another defeat. 

They have In-Season Tournament games remaining against the Heat and Hornets, with the winner of the group automatically securing a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Julius Randle added 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, continuing to score with greater efficiency after struggling to start the season.

Quickley, a Maryland product playing close to home at the Capitol One Arena, got his season-high in points on 10 of 18 shooting. 

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle shoots the ball as Washington Wizards guard Bilal Coulibaly (0) defends in the first quarter at Capital One Arena.
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The Knicks were missing two starters — RJ Barrett (migraines) and Quentin Grimes (sprained wrist) — and Thibodeau went unusually deep in his rotation. 

He gave Donte DiVincenzo the first start of his Knicks career, and even sent out Evan Fournier for a season debut.

The Frenchman, who has been banished to the end of the bench all season, looked rusty while scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting in 16 minutes. 

The Wizards have a tanking posture after trading Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis for future assets.

Their strategy of outscoring the opponent with little regard for defense has predictably struggled to net wins. 

They’ve dropped five straight after getting handled by the Knicks.

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley shoots the ball as Washington Wizards guard Landry Shamet defends in the second quarter at Capital One Arena.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Thibodeau’s squad started hot while building a 16-4 lead after 4 ½ minutes.

The Knicks led by as many as 20 in the opening half.

But the Wizards hung around and only trailed by five heading into the fourth quarter. 

New York’s victory continued its trend of beating the bad teams. The Knicks are undefeated against the Hornets, Spurs, Clippers and Wizards. 

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