Celtics-Knicks Live: Chris Babb, Phil Pressey Cannot Lead Boston All the Way Back as C’s Lose 103-102

by NESN Staff

October 9, 2013

Brad StevensEnd of game, Knicks 103-102: The dream is over. Now we can all go back to a world where Chris Babb occasionally misses a shot and preseason games are not entertaining.

Babb, Phil Pressey, Vitor Faverani and an extremely young lineup of Celtics made the end of this one extremely interesting, driving back from a 23-point deficit to take the lead in the waning seconds. Although a Tim Hardaway jumper spoiled the show, it was nonetheless an encouraging performance from a group of players who made the most of garbage time.

Babb, who came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers in the final quarter, got the ball on the last possession but was hounded by the Knicks. He drove and tried a double-pump leaner that was blocked. MarShon Brooks, playing in front of his onetime home crowd in Providence, turned and walked away from his prone teammate after Babb was knocked to the floor on his final shot attempt.

Aside from Babb, who had 12 points and two assists in eight minutes, the Celtics’ player of the game was Faverani. The big Brazlian’s stellar second quarter pulled Boston back into the game after a lull in the first half and helped him finish with 11 points and six rebounds in the game. Pressey, who is trying to earn a job as the backup point guard, did his job well by scoring 11 points and adding seven assists with zero turnovers.

The member of the Knicks who appears to be in midseason form is Iman Shumpert. Maybe he was upset about being held out of the starting lineup in favor of Pablo Prigioni, but Shumpert hit all seven shots he took to lead the Knicks with 18 points.

The Celtics now get a rest before returning to the court Friday in Newark, Del., to take on the Sixers.

Fourth quarter, :08.2, Knicks 103-102: Hardaway must not have gotten an invitation, because he is trying to spoil the Celtics’ party. With the pro-Celtics crowd in Providence cheering for a stop, Hardaway dropped a baseline jumper to give the Knicks the lead.

Fourth quarter, :22.4, Celtics 102-101: For a preseason game, this has been thrilling and chilling.

Off the inbound, the Knicks refused to let Babb shoot. But Babb drove baseline and passed to a cutting Faverani for a dunk to pull Boston within one. Then the Celtics forced a bad shot by New York, and Pressey banked in a flying left-handed layup to give the Celtics the lead.

Fourth quarter, :54, Knicks 101-98: Somebody has to take the big shot. Will it be hometown hero Brooks or Babb, who has gone unconscious here in the fourth?

It turned out to be Faverani in the corner taking the game-tying attempt, weirdly enough. Faverani missed, but the ball was tipped out by a Knick, giving the Celtics another chance to tie it.

Fourth quarter, 2:52, Knicks 99-93: Watch out, Knickerbockers. Here come the Baby Celts.

Babb just refuses to miss, adding two more triples to his ledger, and DeShawn Sims made a couple of nice plays inside to make this a game. It’s up to the young guns to see if they can bring this home, because it is unlikely Stevens would toss his starters back in to win a meaningless preseason game.

Also, it’s not the worst thing to see how Pressey and the rest of these young players handle an end-of-game situation.

Fourth quarter, 5:52, Knicks 94-79: Anybody still there? Hello? Hello?

If you’re still around — and good for you — you’ve been treated to some terrible all-around basketball but some nice isolated moments.

Chris Babb, a defensive specialist out of Iowa State, flashed a nice sequence when he blocked a layup attempt from behind, then got the ball as the trailer on the secondary break and drilled a three. Hardaway has stayed hot and not has 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, but he is not anywhere near as hot as Shumpert, who is a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.

Brooks is not perfect, but he is giving his former Friars something to like. He drained a long jumper after looking off Babb, so it probably wasn’t the best quality shot, but Brooks is known as much as a shot-maker as a shot-taker.

End of third quarter, Knicks 79-65: It’s getting to be rookie-watching time.

Olynyk, Pressey and Tim Hardaway Jr. took center stage to end the third quarter as the Knicks’ lead grew and garbage time set in. Hardaway drilled a three behind a screen and Pressey careened off a screen at the top of the key for a driving layup. Olynyk also flipped in a reverse layup.

Third quarter, 5:44, Knicks 57-50: Faverani and company have not been nearly as uplifting to begin the second half as they were to end the first half. They have been doubled up, 12-6, running into another offensive funk as they did out of the gate Monday.

The Celtics, who opened the third quarter with Green, Sullinger, Bradley, Lee and Bass, are actually running their offense well. They generated a reverse layup look for Lee and a corner three for Bradley. But Felton came from Lee’s blind side to block the layup attempt and Bradley’s three bounced out.

The Celtics are getting their shots. They just are not converting.

Halftime, Knicks 45-44: Almost single-handedly, Faverani led the Celtics back into this game to end the first half.

Faverani has nine points and two boards, with a step-back three and a one-handed demolition of Bargnani among his highlights. He is within a point of Wallace for the Celtics’ team lead and is just a bucket behind Iman Shumpert, who erupted for 11 quick points on 4-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Surprisingly, the Celtics have taken more shots than the notoriously shot-happy Knicks. They have 40 field goal attempts to the Knicks’ 35, but the Knicks have gotten to the line while the Celtics have not. Part of the 13-4 New York advantage in free throws may be because the veteran team has gotten the benefit of the doubt from the referees more often, but the Knicks are obviously being more aggressive in attacking the basket and initiating contact while the Celtics have shied away.

Second quarter, 5:43, Knicks 32-32: Green and Bradley had rough starts, but they haven’t been completely lost. They are still NBA players.

Green sealed off his defender for a tough layup in the post and then took a bounce pass from Bradley, who picked off a pass at the defensive end, for a one-handed throwdown.

Bradley continues to struggle running the offense, however. He and Vitor Faverani gone hung up trying to run a pick and roll at the top of the key, and the result was an uninspiring three by Faverani as the shot clock expired.

The Brazilian big man flashed some of his alleged athleticism with a left-handed dunk of a mini pick and roll with Wallace. The guy has some skills, but he will definitely require fine-tuning before he becomes a reliable player.

Second quarter, 8:29, Knicks 27-26: Olynyk does some nice things on offense, not all of them shooting-related. He nabbed a near-turnover by MarShon Brooks in the lane and flipped the ball to Brooks for a two-handed dunk, bringing a cheer from the Dunkin Donuts Center crowd. (Brooks played his college ball there at Providence.)

While Olynyk and Wallace have impressed, Green has not. He is 1-for-4 from the field with two fouls in less than eight minutes. Worst of all, he seems wedded to the kind of off-balance, long 2-pointers that statheads like Stevens abhor.

End of first quarter, Knicks 20-17: All those scouts might have been sandbagging a little when it came to Kelly Olynyk.

The stretch four out of Gonzaga has flashed a better-than-advertised ability to move with the ball and not-as-awful defensive awareness as has been billed. He drove the lane and kicked out to Jeff Green for a corner three — which Green missed — and then stuffed a turnaround jump shot attempt by Metta World Peace.

Wallace still leads the Celtics with seven points, having taken six of the team’s 21 shots. He is tied for the team lead in rebounds with Kris Humphries, who has played just four minutes. Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks with six points.

First quarter, 4:20, Knicks 15-13: This one has begun with more intensity than a typical preseason game. That may be because this is the Knicks’ preseason opener or it may be that some of the emotion from last year’s first-round playoff series is still left over for the few players who remain.

Avery Bradley has continued to have trouble bringing up the ball and staying with Raymond Felton around screens, picking up right where he left off last spring. Meanwhile, Gerald Wallace keeps providing evidence that he may actually be the Celtics’ best player as long as Rajon Rondo remains out.

Jared Sullinger showed off his underrated shooting stroke with a pair of midrange jumpers and Wallace swished a couple of 3-pointers to extend New York’s defense. All in all it was a mixed start but definitely a better one than their slow start on Monday.

5:58 p.m.: Jeff Green will not start because Brad Stevens hates him.

Actually, Stevens just wants to see a different starting lineup combination than the one that started slowly in Monday’s preseason opener against the Raptors. But it’s so much more fun to stoke controversy, so we’ll just pretend Green is already in Stevens’ doghouse.

Gerald Wallace, who was the Celtics’ best player against the Raptors, starts in Green’s place.

The Knicks, who are playing their preseason opener, will trot out one of their many possible starting lineup combinations once the season begins. Andrea Bargnani will start at power forward — although the “power” in that description is in name only — while coach Mike Woodson goes with one of the double point guard backcourt combinations he liked so much last year.

The complete starters are listed below.

Tyson Chandler
Andre Bargnani
Carmelo Anthony
Pablo Prigioni
Raymond Felton

Jared Sullinger
Brandon Bass
Gerald Wallace
Courtney Lee
Avery Bradley

8 a.m. ET: Game 1 under their belts, Brad Stevens and the Celtics are moving on with their preseason.

The second game of the exhibition slate comes up quickly, with the Celtics heading to Providence to “host” the New York Knicks on Wednesday. In the middle of a four-game, six-day stretch, the Celtics will quickly find out a lot of things about their depth and how rookies like Kelly Olynyk and Stevens himself handle the quick turnarounds.

The Celtics could be a little shorthanded against the Knicks, since Jordan Crawford missed Tuesday’s practice to deal with a death in the family and MarShon Brooks left the session with a headache. Avery Bradley, who was wearing a wrap on his left hand on Tuesday, had X-rays on the hand last week that came up negative. Even so, that could mean more playing time for Phil Pressey, who did not play in the preseason opener on Monday.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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