Final, Knicks 114-88: This game was … a game.
For the second time in three games, the Boston Celtics got dismantled and didn’t look particularly engaged doing it. Jeff Green and company looked on helplessly as Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points — which was all he needed — to lead the Knicks (18-27) to their third straight win.
The Celtics (15-32) got 14 points from Green, who shot just 4-for-13 from the floor. Boston has now lost 18 of its last 21 games.
Fourth quarter, 5:59, Knicks 101-78: By now, garbage time should just be renamed “Chris Johnson Time” for the Celtics. When the score gets lopsided, the Dayton product gets to show what he can do.
Johnson now has 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, all threes. To be fair, this is actually the only the second blowout Johnson’s been a part of — Miami, Washington and Brooklyn were all tight ones — but that could change over the course of his next nine days with the club.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, Knicks 97-67: It’s time to see what your favorite Celtics or Knicks benchwarmers can do.
A couple of regulars, like J.R. Smith and Kris Humphries, are in the game, but this is now about just getting through the fourth quarter without getting anybody important hurt. Chris Johnson drills another three, Jeremy Tyler eyes a dunk or two to add to his 11 points and Cole Adrich gets to mix it up with Kelly Olynyk.
End of third quarter, Knicks 86-59: If the Celtics hope to come back in this game, they’ll have to do it from the 3-point line. Of course, that would require a massive shift in how they’re shooting from out there.
The Celtics are a paltry 3-for-15 beyond the arc. That’s not why they have been behind by as many as 35 points — the breakdowns on defense and failure to protect the ball have been far bigger factors — but it hasn’t helped. Down by this many with only 12 minutes left, the Celtics basically only have one hope left, and it’s a complete turnaround from deep.
Third quarter, 5:24, Knicks 76-43: Rajon Rondo hasn’t thrown up his hands, said “That’s it” and walked off the court yet. He could be close to that point, though.
Rondo and the Celtics are feeling generous, apparently, because they are giving the Knicks the ball whenever they want it. Rondo has four of the Celtics’ 13 turnovers, which isn’t a massive amount until you consider that they’re shooting 28 percent.
A team can get away with that many turnovers if it’s shooting well, but not when both areas produce a net loss. At this rate, the Celtics are headed to just a plain old regular loss.
Third quarter, 10:36, Knickers 65-37: Tyson Chandler has been killing the Celtics, but he might have to sit down for a while. After the Knicks added another Anthony bucket to their total, Chandler stepped on Jeff Green’s ankle and came up limping.
UPDATE: Chandler is staying in the game. We’ll see how long the Knicks, who are stalking a 30-point lead, really need him, though.
Halftime, Knicks 63-37: Remember how the Celtics trounced these guys in December, then earned a narrow victory a few days later?
Yeah, me neither.
The ball is whipping around the court and through the net for the Knicks, who are thoroughly dominating. They are shooting 62 percent from the field and have 19 assists on 24 field goals, with just six turnovers. By comparison, the Celtics are shooting 32 points and have nine assists versus eight turnovers.
Carmelo Anthony leads everyone with 17 points, but even he doesn’t look as hot as Jeff Green does lost. Green is 2-for-7 from the field and somehow has had two of his shots blocked despite having probably the highest vertical leap on the floor. He also hasn’t looked remotely engaged on defense, where the Knicks are slicing up Boston with the pick and roll.
Tyson Chandler, pick-and-roll finisher extraordinaire, has 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting. He’s also grabbed eight rebounds.
Second quarter, 2:35, Knicks 53-33: Vitor Faverani has all the physical tools to be an impact center right now. He just doesn’t have any of the non-physical ones right now.
With someone for the Celtics screaming “V! V! V!” to make Faverani help defend Anthony, with Gerald Wallace fronting, the Knicks easily lobbed the ball over the top for Anthony to score. An oblivious Faverani apparently didn’t realize he should probably help his teammate against one of the NBA’s singular scorers.
The Celtics reeled off an 11-0 run in this quarter yet still couldn’t get closer than 14 points. Now the deficit is back to 20. It’s going to be a long night.
Second quarter, 7:34, Knicks 41-20: Remember how foolish the Knicks made the Celtics look against the pick and roll in last year’s playoffs? They’re at it again.
This time, it’s not just Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler who are tearing up the Celts. Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway Jr. are teaming with Jeremy Tyler and Kenyon Martin to make Boston look just as lost.
Green in particular has been uninspiring. The next play where the Boston forward is anywhere close to the right spot while defending a pick-and-roll will be the first time.
Second quarter, 9:02, Knicks 37-18: Chris Johnson and Kris Humphries are the best players on the court for the Celtics. Yes, they are currently playing with Jeff Green, Jerryd Bayless and first-round pick Kelly Olynyk.
Johnson, fresh off signing a new 10-day contract, canned a corner three, then was unable to corral a tough-to-catch bounce pass on the break from Bayless, who just should have taken the layup himself. Humphries sniffed out a would-be alley-oop and intercepted the pass at the rim, adding to his four points at the other end to pitch in for the Celtics.
Overall, though, the Celtics don’t look sharp at all defensively. It’s actually not a very good thing when a former bench warmer and a former D-Leaguer are outplaying your supposed rotation guys.
End of first quarter, Knicks 31-15: Carmelo Anthony could be headed for one of those nights. There may not be anything Brandon Bass can do about it.
Despite overall solid defense by Bass, Anthony is 4-for-5 from the field and leads all scorers by a health margin with 11 points. The Knicks as a team are shooting 13-for-20 from the floor and have doubled up Boston on the glass, 12-6.
That’s not really a recipe for success for the Celtics, who are headed for their second straight underwhelming first quarter.
First quarter, 2:30, Knicks 26-9: When the Knicks are knocking down 3-pointers, they are a scary team. They’re a scary team so far tonight.
Led by Anthony and J.R. Smith, who are each 2-for-2 from deep, the Knicks have surged into an early 17-point lead. The Celtics are shooting just 3-for-14, not because of New York’s defense, but because the rate at which the Knicks are hitting shots makes it impossible for the Celtics to get out and run to get easy points.
First quarter, 6:26, Knicks 13-5: If the gameplan was to let Iman Shumpert sneak backdoor and Tyson Chandler get easy finishes off the pick and roll whenever they wanted, the Celtics are executing to a T.
While Carmelo Anthony has been limited to just one shot so far, his teammates are more than picking up the slack against a lackadaisical Boston defense. The Knicks have hit six of their 10 shots and have five assists on those six field goals.
Jeff Green has looked particularly disinterested on defense. He was covering Shumpert for both backdoor layups, and lost Shump around another screen. Fortunately for Green, Shumpert fumbled the ball before he could convert a sure layup. Even after that, Green received a harsh look and a talking-to by Rajon Rondo.
7:04 p.m.: Lifting Rajon Rondo’s minutes limit helps alleviate the pressure in the backcourt, but getting a healthy body back might be the biggest help of all.
Jerryd Bayless is available off the bench tonight for the first time in four games. Bayless’ return could provide a boost to a team that has leaned on 10-day contract signee Chris Johnson.
“I think that [Bayless] would obviously help,” Stevens told reporters in New York. “We didn’t score the ball well the last two games, and hopefully he can be efficient scoring the ball off the bench for us. At the same time, I think we can play better offensively than we did on Sunday to hopefully get a few better looks than we did.
Brandon Bass will start again in place of Kris Humphries. That will place Bass, the Celtics’ most versatile frontcourt defender, on Carmelo Anthony, the league’s second-leading scorer.
6:07 p.m.: Gradually, the kid gloves are starting to come off in the Celtics’ handling of Rajon Rondo.
Rondo sat out the second game of a back-to-back last week in Washington, D.C., and began his comeback from a torn ACL on a strict minutes limit. But the Celtics have given him much freer reign of late.
The 27-year-old point guard played more than 30 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in what Celtics coach Brad Stevens termed Rondo’s best game of the season. Prior to tonight’s game, Stevens told reporters that Rondo could suit up Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers if he feels right.
If so, this would be a big step forward for Rondo. It would be his first time testing the knee in back-t0-back games, which is an obstacle he’s going to have to surmount at some point.
Stevens went with a little different starting five in the last game to combat small-ball Brooklyn, but with Tyson Chandler running amok for New York, we’re going to assume the Celtics go back to the big body. We’ll update you with any changes.
8 a.m. ET: The tearful reunions are over with for the time being. For the next month or so, it’s just boring old basketball for the Boston Celtics.
The best part about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s return Sunday might have been how the two beloved former Celtics overshadowed a sloppy game. The Celtics (15-31) sputter into their matchup with the New York Knicks (17-27) losers of 14 of their last 16 games.
If you prefer to go even farther back, the Celtics have lost 17 of their last 20. In other words, things haven’t been going well.
At least the Celtics are easy to figure out. They’re simply not very good. The Knicks, by contrast, are an enigma. They won five in a row, then lost five in a row, and now have a two-game win streak to boast. They can’t seem to decide whether they want to be really bad or unsustainably good.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.
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