Knicks Blow Gaskets Off Carefree Celtics. NY 118 Boston 109

The Knicks blew the gaskets off the Celtics in Boston, leading by as many as 31 points near the end of the 3rd quarter in the nationally televised game on TNT on a Thursday night.

But the Celtics didn’t care — the announcers kept reminding us — because they had already clinched best record in the NBA and had nothing to play for, and didn’t want any of their players injured.

At the end of the game, the Celtics did care, as their reserves came out and played a frenetic brand of basketball to pull within 9 points in the final minute — after the Knicks had stopped caring about the game, up by 24 points with 4 minutes left.

Thus the final score but it was a blowout win for NY, led by Jalen Brunson who put on a show before the TNT audience, with 39 points on 15-23 shooting (6-11 from 3), 4 assists, and 3 charges drawn. NY crushed Boston on the boards, 52-36, with Isaiah Hartenstein (13 rebounds), Josh Hart (16 rebounds), OG Anunoby, Mitchell Robinson and team outworking Boston all night.

Afterwards, TNT Analyst Kenny Walker called Jalen Brunson the best player in the East — a far cry from earlier in the season when he said the Knicks never have the best player on the court when they play. But TNT Analyst Charles Barkley said Indiana would beat NY in the playoffs, and Shaquille O’Neal agreed.

“We did some really good things,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “But you gotta play for 48 minutes and we didn’t do that.” On Brunson, Thibs added, “the best thing is he thinks he can get better and he will because that’s his mindset.”

NY improves to 48-32, and with 2 games left are in 3rd place in the East, 1 game back of Milwaukee (which owns the tie breaker), and 1 game ahead of Cleveland (NY owns the tiebreaker).

1. Celtics Played their Stars

Boston had just lost in Milwaukee — a game where Milwaukee needed to win, and the Celtics didn’t care. Before this game all of Boston’s star players were listed as questionable — Kristaps Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, and Al Horford. They all played, and in fact played 29 to 32 minutes sans Porzingis who played 25 and Horford 16 minutes off the bench.

The Celtics kept pace with the Knicks throughout the 1st quarter — NY taking a 32-29 lead after 1.

2. Bogey Helps NY Take Command in 2nd Quarter

The game was 47-45 NY with 6 minutes left in the 2nd quarter when OG Anunoby hit a corner 3 for a 5-pt NY lead.

And then Bojan Bogdanovic — an unlikely hero relatively speaking — absolutely took over.

Bogey made a spectacular reverse layup for a 7-pt NY lead.

Next time down Bogey made another great move on a drive.

Next time down Bogey hit a 3!

Then Bogey blocked a shot — or at least it looked like he blocked it — Hartenstein got credit, Bogey pulling down the rebound off the block — which led to a fast break other direction and a Jalen Brunson 3-plus-1 for a 4-point play. NY 61 Boston 45.

Next time down Brunson hit ANOTHER 3 and NY was up by 19 points with 2:18 left — a lead they maintained at the half.

“Really good first half for the Knicks,” summarized NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Defending, sharing the ball, controlling both backboards, especially the offensive glass which has created plenty of 2nd chance opportunities. Also, making the extra effort plays and extra pass.”

3. Knicks Blow Gaskets Off Celtics in 3rd

The 3rd quarter was more of the same. NY played a relenting style of defensive ball, owning the boards, with a crisp offense, hitting rhythm 3’s.

Boston meanwhile kept missing 3’s.

Kristaps Porzingis actually started the quarter by hitting a 3, but Donte DiVincenzo immediately answered with an athletic drive and then it was Brunson, Brunson, and more Brunson.

Brunson hit back-to-back 3’s and NY was up by 26.

Brunson hit drives, floaters, 3’s — he would score 21 points in the quarter. His free throw with 18 seconds left in the period gave NY a 100-69 lead.

4. Knicks Romp in 4th

Brunson would not play the 4th — taking a Stephen Curry final-quarter-off.

Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa came off the bench to continue to put Boston on their heels at start of the 4th, with Isaiah Hartenstein continuing to pound the boards or score inside. Precious went in for a dunk, McBride went in for a dunk off a Hartenstein pass, and back-to-back Hartenstein scores inside (the last off a feed from McBride) put NY up 108-82.

The TNT announcers kept reminding viewers that the Celtics didn’t care about this game, as Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3, and then Hartenstein dunked inside, and DiVincenzo hit another 3 off a Hartenstein pass. NY up by 27 with 4:48 left in the game.

“Isaiah Hartenstein makes winning plays,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Plays to his strengths and if he seems to be in the right position at the right time it’s no accident. It starts with his effort, work on the glass, sets screens, finds open man, outworks you and defends. Plays for the name on front not back.”

Boston Reserves Make Score Respectable in Final Minutes

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla put his reserves in and must have told them to bring back Boston’s reputation.

Payton Pritchard went nuts — hitting a 3, a deuce, and a 3 on consecutive possessions. Then Svi Mykhailiuk hit a 3. Luke Kornet scored inside, and Svi Mykhailiuk hit another 3. Pritchard hit another 3 — ruled a 2 as his foot was on the line as Boston pulled to within 9 with 46 seconds left as Thibs was BOILING on the sideline.

Finally Bogey hit a drive to quell the rally.

Even to the final minute Boston was playing a frenetic full-court trapping defense on the Knicks. The Knicks got it up court on their final possession and let the 24-second clock run out without taking a shot for sportsmanship. Boston got the ball with 6 seconds left and Pritchard raced up court and hit another 3 making the final score 118-109 NY.

Final highlights:

5. TNT Announcers Predict Indiana Will Beat NY

After the game, the notoriously Knick-hating TNT analyst crew found a way to rain on NY’s performance — with Charles Barkley saying he thought Indiana would beat NY in the playoffs and Shaq agreeing.

The Boxscore


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