Derrick White Kills Knicks. Boston 133 NY 123

Brad Stevens is no longer the coach of the Boston Celtics — he stepped up into the GM role. And from there he continues to guide the Celtics into great heights, as he did as a coach.

This off-season, he made some moves to give Boston more firepower and improve their defense — acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, but losing Marcus Smart in the process. Stevens promoted Derrick White from the bench to the starting 5 to replace Smart.

And on this night, a Friday night in Boston, Derrick White was the differentiator in Boston’s 133-123 beating of the Knicks.

The Knicks were able to contend and play evenly with Boston’s star-loaded rotation of Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown, and Holliday — but White killed them on defense and offense. White hit 3’s all night, and disrupted the Knicks on D — finishing with 30 points on 10-16 shooting (6-10 from 3), with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Old man Al Horford also stung NY off the bench with key 3-pointers (5-8 shooting, 3-6 from 3 for 14 pts).

“We gotta fix our defense,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “It starts individually. Containment of the ball. Better ball pressure. Better challenging of shots. Every aspect. I thought offensively, guys did a good job of creating advantages. The rebounding was good. But our defense has to be fixed.”

NY falls to 12-9. Boston improves to 16-5.

1. Grimes to Bench; Bench Does Well

Quentin Grimes, who has been putting up miniscule scoring numbers as the shooting guard after coming back from a sprained hand, had created a minor stir after the last game — a loss to Milwaukee where he scored 0 points and took 1 shot — when he replied to a question and said “It’s just hard when you go the whole quarter without touching the ball, so it’s tough going out there and just standing in the corner the whole game.”

Other Knicks responded — Jalen Brunson saying, “Obviously, we have 3 players in the lineup who all go left, all do a lot of similar things. When it comes to Quentin, he’s going to be open, he’s going to get to do stuff. He’s going to get the ball so sometimes when the confidence is low it seems like the end of the world, but as teammates we need to pick him up and make sure he gets back on track.”

Coach Thibodeau moved Grimes out of the starting rotation before the game, putting Donte DiVincenzo in as the starting shooting guard. And Grimes thrived on the 2nd unit — getting the ball and immediately taking shots.

Grimes would go 5-10 from the floor (3-7 from 3) for 13 points and a +12.

The whole 2nd team played well, especially Isaiah Hartenstein, who played great ball all evening — 16 rebounds in 29 minutes, with 4 assists and 5 points on 2-4 shooting.

“Grimes hanging and banging, propelling the Knicks now” — said Walt Frazier on the broadcast after a Grimes drive off a rebound and football pass by Hartenstein.

Hartenstein played some time with the starters after Mitchell Robinson injured his foot and went out for a precautionary x-ray early in the 3rd. Robinson returned and played well.

Immanuel Quickley had 17 points on 4-10 shooting (3-8 from 3) for a +15, and Josh Hart had 6 pts on 2-4 shooting (2-3 from 3).

2. Boston Takes Charge with Run Before the Half

The Knicks were leading 54-52 with 4:50 left in the 2nd quarter and were playing well. RJ Barrett was penetrating to the basket for teardrop floaters, and Randle was hitting his jumper.

“Barrett cool and calm, assassin tonight” — said Walt Frazier on the broadcast after Barrett drove the lane for another nothing-but-net teardrop floater.

Randle would finish with 20 pts on 7-15 shooting (3-4 from 3), and Barrett would finish with 23 points on 9-16 shooting (2-5 from 3, 3-4 in free throws).

But a Kristaps Porzingis catch-and-shoot 3 put Boston on top and began a 22-11 run led by Tatum, Horford, and Porzingis that put Boston on top 74-65 at the half.

“The last 3 minutes of the 2nd quarter, we let them get away,” said Thibs afterwards.

3. Boston Goes Up by 20 in 3rd

And then in the 3rd’ quarter, Boston went on a 13-2 run that put them up by 20. Derrick White was in the middle of it, with steals and defense and 3’s.

“It seems like on any given night, an opponent who is not one of their main pieces, becomes a flamethrower from outside,” said Knick analyst Alan Hahn afterwards. “And it was Derrick white in this game, where he just caught fire early, and he got into an easy rhythm, they never knocked him off that rhythm, and he had himself a career night from downtown. It feels like night in and night out we’re finding that from a lot of Knick opponents.”

White is a heady, 29-yr-old, 6’4 combo guard who played 4 years in San Antonio — averaging as much as 15.4 ppg — before Boston acquired him in a package that included Josh Richardson in 2021-22. He averaged 12.4 ppg last year for Boston and is averaging 15.4 ppg this year. White was the 29th pick of the 1st round for San Antonio in 2017; he played college ball at Colorado.

4. Knicks Make Run at End of 3rd with 3 Straight 3’s

At the very end of the 3rd quarter, the Knicks tightened the D, causing 3 straight misses on drives where the ball rolled in and out for Boston — and on the other end NY hit three straight 3’s — one by Quickley and two straight by Randle — to pull to within 11 pts.

But Al Horford hit a 3 from the corner with 1.1 seconds left and Boston was back up 14 entering the 4th.

5. NY Was 7 Down with 5 Minutes Left

NY kept coming.

If there’s two things to take away from this game — it is that NY kept coming — they could have won this game with better defense — and that the Kristaps Porzingis addition to Boston did not kill NY. KP hurt them with catch-and-shoot 3’s, but he seemed winded in the 4th and his penchant for not being able to post up guards was back. Several times in the 4th, NY had either Jalen Brunson or RJ Barrett guarding Porzingis — and Porzingis was unable to post them down low — instead posting them from 15 to 18 feet out for a turnaround jumper — which he missed several of.

The Knicks 2nd unit dominated the start of the 4th quarter, with RJ Barrett driving the lane for nothing-but-net teardrop floaters, and Quentin Grimes scoring on a drive and a 3.

Isaiah Hartenstein was everywhere, and Josh Hart and Quickley were doing their thing.

Quickley drove right baseline and picked up a foul on Jaylen Brown with 7:19 left, which Brown did not like. He got into a tif with the ref and was ejected with two technicals.

A Hart 3 with 5:57 left pulled NY to within 119-112.

But then there was Derrick White again — he missed a 3 but got his own rebound and hit a drive. Next time down he got fouled on a drive and made both free throws — and Boston was back up 11 with 4:08 left.

The Knicks D held for the next few possessions but they couldn’t score on their end — until a Hartenstein tip-in pulled NY to within 9 with 2:07 left.

Brunson and Barrett scored for NY down the stretch, but Jayson Tatum took over for Boston to trade buckets and the Knicks ran out of time.

6. Brunson Sprains Ankle with 20 Seconds Left

With 20 seconds left, Derrick White went to the line for 2 free throws. Jalen Brunson stepped back and accidentally stepped on Payton Pritchard‘s foot and sprained his ankle.

There was some controversy on Twitter afterwards, blaming Thibs for still having Brunson in the game — but as Alan Hahn pointed out in the postgame — Boston’s starters including Jayson Tatum were still in as well.

Brunson scored 23 pts on 8-17 shooting but was 0-5 from 3 — another area where a few more 3’s from him and NY is right there in this game.

The Boxscore


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