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Knicks All-Star Jalen Brunson leaves game with what later is called ‘knee contusion.’

NBA: New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers

Mar 3, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) limps off the court in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It looked terrible when it happened but this may turn out to be not as serious as feared.

Knicks All-Star and offensive engine Jalen Brunson went down with an apparent knee injury in the first minute of Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers and did not return to the game. The injury had Knicks fans on edge because it appears to be a non-contact injury — Brunson curled in from the left wing, got the ball, elevated to take a jump shot while moving along the free throw line, and instantly grabbed his knee in clear pain. There was no obvious contact from defender Isaac Okoro.

Brunson had to be helped back to the locker room and the Knicks first said he was questionable to return then was ruled out for the rest of the game with what the team is calling a “sore left knee.”

However, after the game Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said X-rays were negative and called it a “knee contusion.” Further tests will be conducted on Monday.

Brunson is the beating heart of the Knicks offense averaging 27.7 points per game with 40.7% shooting from 3, plus he dishes out 6.7 assists per night. The Knicks outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court, and Brunson is on track for an All-NBA spot if he plays enough games.

The four most important players to the Knicks — Brunson, Julius Randle, OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson — all are currently out with injuries.

While the Knicks sit fourth in the Eastern Conference at 35-26, they are just 1.5 games ahead of the eighth-seed Pacers — the Knicks are in a jumbled group in the middle of the conference and if Brunson misses time it could be hard for New York to stay in the top six and out of the play-in.