The Knicks have another injury to worry about. And they can’t afford this one to be bad.
Jalen Brunson turned his right ankle with 5:31 remaining against the severely shorthanded Grizzlies, darting to the locker room.
He didn’t return to the bench as the Knicks polished off a 123-113 win, with Brunson dropping 27 points with eight assists.
Brunson suffered the injury while driving to the basket and immediately fell to the court in pain.
He tried to shake it off and continue playing, but left the ensuing timeout for the Garden tunnel.
He was followed by his father, assistant coach Rick Brunson, who came back a few minutes later.
The Knicks nearly blew their lead without Brunson, watching it fall from 10 to 4 with about two minutes left. But then Donte DiVincenzo (32 points) nailed a clutch trey, and Precious Achiuwa (17) dunked a putback to regain control.
The Grizzlies (18-33) were again wearing their G League outfit.
Their best players – Ja Morant (shoulder), Desmond Bane (ankle), Brandon Clarke (Achilles), Jaren Jackson Jr. (hip), Marcus Smart (finger) – were all out.
Most of them won’t return this season.
The most recognizable player on their roster Tuesday was Derrick Rose, who played at MSG as an opponent for the first time since 2019. All the Grizzlies starters (Santi Aldama, Vince Williams Jr., Trey Jemison, Jacob Gilyard and Jon Konchar) would’ve been difficult for Knicks fans to identify in a lineup.
The Knicks (33-18), also damaged by the injury bug (though not as severely), led wire-to-wire and by double-digits for most of the game clock.
They improved to 22-1 against teams that entered Tuesday night with losing records, including 12 straight versus those opponents.
Their defense Tuesday probably wasn’t appeasing to Tom Thibodeau — especially during a lax start to the fourth quarter — but there wasn’t much doubt from tipoff until the final buzzer.
The biggest question is Brunson’s health.
He’s only missed two games this season and only has three more games until the break, when Brunson is scheduled to make his first All-Star appearance.
The Knicks are already wounded. They were missing OG Anuboby for a fifth straight game because of elbow inflammation, an injury that Thibodeau didn’t explain because it was up to “medical.”
The Knicks do not make their doctors available to the media.
Quentin Grimes sat his third straight with a sprained knee. Neither Grimes nor Anunoby were on the Knicks bench during the game.
Julius Randle, who missed his fifth straight because of a dislocated shoulder, was at the end of the bench, however.
Rose, meanwhile, got a nice ovation when he checked into the game in the opening quarter.
The point guard — who originally signed with the Grizzlies to mentor Morant — dropped seven points in 12 minutes, right after receiving high praise from his old friend, Thibodeau.
“It’s no fun when you’re coaching against him. Great guy,” Thibodeau said of his (many times over) former player. “I was just thinking about him the other day. I’ve had him at every stage. And whatever role you ask him to play, he excels at it.
“And the thing that stood out when I think about him in his whole career “And to me, he’s a Hall of Fame player, the youngest MVP in history. And when he was the youngest MVP, the thing that stood out was the humility. Every night was incredible when he was on the court. But the humility to be a great teammate. And he’s always had that. And I think the role he has in Memphis right now, you couldn’t ask for a better person to be around Ja. And I think that’s great for him. If he’s healthy – and that’s the big thing – he could play.”