Final, Celtics win 90-86: A game that looked like it would simply be about Jared Sullinger’s dominance turned into a team-wide victory as the Celtics outlasted the Knicks to snap a two-game losing streak.
Avery Bradley came through on both ends in the fourth quarter with seven points and pressure defense, and Jeff Green overcame a rough offensive night to hit the dagger as the Celtics (11-14) buried the Knicks (6-16) deeper in the standings.
Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 26 points and Andrea Bargnani poured in 22 points, but the Knicks faded in the final period as the Celtics surged. The Celtics outscored the Knicks 22-13 in the fourth.
It wasn’t a 41-point victory, but it counts the same in the standings.
Fourth quarter, :09.3, Celtics 80-86: The Celtics needed someone to step up. Jeff Green did.
Green has had a mostly terrible game, scoring just six points up until now, but with the Celtics needing a bucket to keep control, Green got the ball on a clear-out and beat Smith to the hole for an and-one layup.
Green missed the freebie, but the basket itself was enough to give the Celtics much better odds now.
Fourth quarter, 1:07, Celtics 88-84: Stevens kicked himself for not playing Faverani more against the Clippers. The rookie is showing why now.
Faverani has played big minutes in the fourth over Sullinger, who was the MVP of the first half. Faverani got Anthony on a switch and managed to get the dead-eye scorer to miss a fallaway jumper. He also finished an awkward-looking layup that was nevertheless effective to extend Boston’s lead to four points and push the Celtics’ run to 20-5.
And we won’t even talk about his 3-pointer. We don’t want him or Stevens get any more ideas.
Fourth quarter, 2:38, Celtics 86-84: In his own way, Avery Bradley has taken over this game.
He got himself started on the defensive end, naturally, harassing J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni into tough passes and turnovers. He’s also driven to the hole to get fouled, beaten his defender to get a layup — which he missed — and just canned a corner three in transition to give the Celtics the lead back.
Fourth quarter, 6:24, Knicks 81-78: Crawford has been very good for the Celtics, but this has been a game that’s brought him back down to earth.
Crawford is 0-for-7 from the field, including an ill-advised attempted three when the Celtics pulled within one point at 79-78 and had a chance to take the lead. That wasn’t the shot the Celtics needed in that situation and this isn’t the version of Steez the Celtics need now.
Fourth quarter, 8:57, Knicks 79-72: Phil Pressey’s a long way from being a perfect point guard, and his ceiling is probably as a career backup, but he’s made some nice plays for the Celtics tonight.
In addition to his defensive contributions, which have been mentioned, he whipped a nice cross-court pass to Lee for a jumper in the third quarter and delivered a no-look dish to Wallace for a backdoor layup as he and Vitor Faverani executed a pick and roll at the top of the key.
The Celtics were off Thursday and have two days off after this one, so there’s no reason for them not to go all-out and give some of the major players a few more minutes than usual to avoid a three-game losing streak.
End of third quarter, Knicks 73-68: Bargnani might not be the toughest big man out there, but he is capable of hitting a few shots.
Bargnani is the second Knick to reach 20 points after an impressive third quarter that saw him score 10 of his team’s 25 points (against the Celtics’ 14 points). He even had a physical layup in the lane, which is rare for him.
The Celtics are going to need to tighten up on defense and not rely on the Knicks messing up themselves in order to win this thing in the fourth quarter. They shot just 33 percent in the third quarter to bring them down to 46 percent for the game. Coupled with the defensive issues, that poor shooting led to a predictable result for Boston.
Third quarter, 2:24, Knicks 69-62: The Knicks’ questionable decision-making appears to be contagious. Since the Knicks began their run, the Celtics have made several plays that force you to scratch your head.
Gerald Wallace in particular is battling Shumpert for the most puzzling plays, almost throwing the ball away on one possession and then firing up an airball late in the possession. A couple odd calls, such as the referee apparently not seeing a ball clearly bounce off Pablo Prigioni’s foot, haven’t helped the Celtics’ cause.
Third quarter, 6:17, Knicks 61-59: Shumpert hasn’t hit the rim on his last three shots — two airballs and a swished three — but it’s been enough to lead the Knicks back into the lead. They’ve played better, for sure, but the Celtics’ defensive rotations have been awful. Anthony got a wide-open dunk when Bass was undercut at the other end and took extra time to get up, while nobody decided to cover Anthony standing unattended under his hoop.
End of second quarter, Celtics 54-48: Carmelo Anthony is doing his darndest to keep the Knicks in this, which might be the only reason the Knicks aren’t down really, really big here.
Bargnani and Stoudemire each has 10 points, but given their complete inability to contain Sullinger on defense, their offensive contributions have been nullified, at best. The Knicks actually are moving the ball fairly well with 10 assists on 18 field goals, but they are just 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
Normally, we’d expect that shooting rate to improve in the second half. But the Knicks have proven they’re not worthy of the benefit of the doubt this season.
Sullinger has been a load, with 17 points and six boards. The Celtics are dominating on the glass 23-15 and are shooting 53 percent from the field while getting to the foul line for 17 free throw attempts. Lee, with 14 points, has single-handedly more than tripled Boston’s bench scoring from Wednesday, when they scored four points. The Celtics bench has chipped in 23 points tonight.
Second quarter, 5:39, Celtics 48-31: Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire and even Anthony are having all sorts of trouble defending Sullinger. But they’ve finally figured out a way to keep him from scoring — when he’s on the bench.
Sullinger can’t play all 48 minutes, so getting a blow might be the only thing to keep him from taking the Knicks to school. He has 15 points on 4-for-5 shooting and is a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line.
The Knicks don’t have anyone capable of contending with an earth-mover like Sullinger with Tyson Chandler out.
Second quarter, 9:25, Celtics 38-28: He may not drill buzzer-beaters like Lee, but Phil Pressey does some small things really well. He did a great job to shut off the baseline on an attempted spin by Amare Stoudemire in the post, leading to a missed hook shot. He then stepped up in the path of Tim Hardaway Jr., forcing the Knicks rookie to take a pull-up jumper that missed long.
Little things like that — which the Knicks, by and large, don’t do — have had a big impact in this game so far. The Celtics are on a 14-2 run and, to use a football analogy, are driving.
End of first quarter, Celtics 29-26: Led by Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks surged back to take the lead and put Boston’s second unit on its heels. Then Courtney Lee happened.
The reserve guard broke the ice with a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock expired. Then then tossed in a pretty right-handed floater and ended the quarter with another desperation three as the buzzer sounded.
The Celtics had that kind of game against the Knicks on Sunday. It looks like they kept a little bit in their back pockets for the rematch.
First quarter, 5:05, Celtics 15-10: Other than Jared Sullinger, the Celtics are not playing particularly well … yet they lead by five.
Thank heaven for the Knicks.
Sullinger has taken Andrea Bargnani into his office in the low post and the results have been particularly brutal on the pillow-soft Knicks center. Sullinger has hit all three shots he’s attempted for eight points, including an offensive rebound and putback a moment ago after battling for prime position against Bargnani, who has never heard of rebounding.
6:32 p.m.: Iman Shumpert had been a game-time decision with a a sore knee, and about an hour before tip-off coach Mike Woodson announced Shumpert will play. He’ll start, as he has in every game for the Knicks this season.
The full projected starting lineups appear below.
5:55 p.m.: It’s not a bold statement to say the Knicks won’t play as poorly as they did on Sunday. Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t underestimating them at all.
“There’s no way,” Stevens said in his pregame media availability. “Each game is its own entity. Each game is its own separate thing. The Knicks are extremely talented as we all know. I’ve always thought Mike [Woodson] was a really good coach and you’ve got a guy like Carmelo [Anthony] who on most nights will be the best individual player in the gym. So you’ve really got a lot of things that don’t add up to what happened last Sunday.”
The Celtics trounced the Knicks by 41 points at Madison Square Garden in a stunning matinee result. The Knicks shot 34 percent from the field and were outrebounded 46-26 in the decisive Boston victory.
Kelly Olynyk will play and come off the bench after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle. Kris Humphries, who has played through a knee bruise and had his knee drained on Thursday, will not play.
8 a.m. ET: The last team the Celtics want to see now is a club they handed a 41-point butt whupping just five days ago.
The Celtics (10-14) have lost two straight games and welcome the Knicks (6-15) into TD Garden for a quick-turnaround rematch of Sunday’s 114-73 victory at the other Garden. These teams are at opposite ends of the standings, but the Knicks are coming off a win over the Bulls, who are always a tough out, while the Celtics are still recovering from an emotional week that saw them reunite with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers.
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will be looking to exact some revenge. If a consequence of setting the Celtics back ever so slightly helps the crosstown Nets, who stand just a game behind the Celtics in the Atlantic Division standings, that’s a sacrifice the Knicks will take.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.