Basketball fans got quite the present in the first game of the NBA’s Christmas Day slate.
The Boston Celtics outlasted the New York Knicks for a 119-114 win at Madison Square Garden on Sunday in a game that featured highlight-reel dunks, a late Knicks surge and plenty of entertainment value.
Isaiah Thomas (27 points) led a balanced Celtics attack that saw six players reach double figures; Kelly Olynyk tallied 16 points while Al Horford stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.
Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose paced the Knicks with 29 and 25 points, respectively, while Kristaps Porzingis dropped 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Here’s how this one went down:
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, Amir Johnson
The Celtics got off to an icy start, shooting just 9 for 23 (39 percent) from the floor in the first quarter while going 2-of-9 from 3-point range.
They particularly struggled late in the period, as the Knicks went on an 8-2 run to close out the quarter and take a six-point lead into the second.
Thomas did make this shot after the whistle, though:
LIGHTING UP THE CHRISTMAS THREES
Crowder and the C’s unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers to storm to a first-half lead.
Crowder drilled three deep balls in a span of under a minute as part of an 11-0 Boston run midway through the second quarter, and the Celtics hit 7 of 14 3-pointers in the period to outscore New York 34-20 in the frame.
The C’s also clamped down on defense, racking up six steals by halftime to take a 56-48 lead into the break.
The Knicks went step-for-step with the C’s during a fast-paced, action-packed third quarter.
Anthony and Rose both heated up from the floor as part of New York’s 34-point frame. Anthony also engaged in a mini-shoving match with Horford on the post, earning both players technical fouls.
Boston withstood the Knicks’ surge, though, closing out the quarter on a 6-2 run to push its lead back to six.
Porzingis was the victim of a huge Horford dunk in the third quarter, but he settled the score in the fourth.
The 7-foot-3 big man sparked a furious 16-3 Knicks run, scoring six points in a span of 15 seconds that set up Anthony’s game-tying layup with just over a minute remaining.
The Celtics led by nine points with 2:14 remaining before New York’s scoring flurry.
WRAPPING UP THE W
But the Celtics were up to the challenge. Marcus Smart buried a massive 3-pointer on Boston’s next possession, and Bradley picked Anthony’s pocket to help the C’s pull away.
Horford put a bow on the victory by blocking Porzingis’ short jumper with six seconds remaining.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Remember that huge Horford dunk we were talking about?
The Celtics return home Monday for a rematch with the Memphis Grizzlies, who they beat in overtime last Tuesday. Then they’ll hit the road Thursday for a showdown against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off for Monday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden.
Thumbnail photo via Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports Images