Jalen Brunson’s red-hot Knicks stretch has him hitting next level of dominance

Jalen Brunson’s already eye-popping numbers somehow continue to become more prolific, to the point that his offensive exploits for the Knicks this season have become routine.

Brunson recorded at least 35 points and at least eight assists for the fourth consecutive April game with a 45-and-8 stat line in Tuesday’s road win against the Bulls.

The All-Star guard sits fourth overall in the NBA scoring race at 28.4 points per game, but he leads the league over the past 10-game (34.0) and 15-game (33.8) segments and trails only Mavericks star Luka Doncic with an average of 30.4 in 27 appearances since the All-Star break in February.

Jalen Brunson drives to the basket during the Knicks’ win over the Bulls. Getty Images

“I think I’m playing better than I did at the beginning of the season,” Brunson said after Tuesday’s game. “I think I progressed every single time on the court. But there’s a lot of things I can still work on, do better. So I don’t see it as that. But there’s always room for improvement.”

With three games remaining in the regular season beginning Thursday night against the league-leading Celtics in Boston, Brunson and the Knicks still have a chance to finish as high as second in the Eastern Conference despite three-time All-Star Julius Randle undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby also missed significant time before returning to the rotation in recent games.

Thus, it was no surprise that Tom Thiboedau jokingly demanded “a recount” when informed that Brunson was ranked sixth in a poll of voters this week for league MVP.

“The thing about it, it’s just such a great story,” Thibodeau said about Brunson after Tuesday’s game. “This didn’t happen overnight. Although it appears that it did, because now everyone sees it. But if you watch the work that this kid has put in his whole life, he’s prepared himself for this moment and it’s a credit to him and his family.

“[He is] very driven and all about the right things. So it doesn’t surprise me because he’s got a great belief and confidence from the work that he’s put in. The best part of it is the humility to go along with it. So he’s a great teammate and he helps to bring the best out of people.”

The 27-year-old Brunson currently owns the fifth-highest scoring average in team history at 28.4 points per game. He trails only Bernard King (32.9 in 1984-85), Richie Guerin (29.5 in 1961-62), Carmelo Anthony (28.7 in 2012-13) and Patrick Ewing (28.6 in 1989-90).

Brunson, who also scored 43 points in Sunday’s win over the Bucks, would need to total 114 points in the final three games (38.0 ppg) to move up to the No. 3 spot on that list.

Jalen Brunson Getty Images

“When you talk about his development and who he is, you’re talking about great concentration; you’re talking about maximum effort,” Thibodeau said. “You’re talking about good judgment. His foundation is so solid because it’s built on fundamentals, so there’s a counter for everything.”

With the playoffs looming, Brunson also played 42 minutes Tuesday night, including the entire second half.

The minutes restriction he’d mostly been subjected to after suffering a knee injury March 3 in Cleveland appears to be fully over.

Jalen Brunson Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“Ask Thibs on that one. But clearly,” Brunson said.

Thibodeau said Brunson’s usage was based on the Bulls also sticking with their starters for extended minutes, with Josh Hart (46), Donte DiVincenzo (38) and Anunoby (35) also playing the majority of the win.

“Everyone is playing well. I think the best part about it is that when one person isn’t playing well, we all know how to back each other up and make sure we’re on the same page,” Brunson said. “We give each other confidence. I think that’s just the chemistry of the team. We don’t care about the credit and find a way to win.”

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