What if we told you the Boston Celtics’ starters scored just two points in the fourth quarter Tuesday night? And what if we told you that was the team’s highest-scoring quarter of the game?
Both of those sentences are true, as the Celtics relied on the stellar efforts of three bench players to finish off the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The unlikely trio of Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Evan Turner gave Boston’s starters a break, scoring 25 of the team’s 27 points in the fourth quarter to outproduce the entire Knicks lineup, which managed just 24 points in the frame.
Turner played the role of facilitator, executing several pick-and-rolls with Zeller to perfection by drilling three mid-range jumpers and hitting his teammates with a pair of nice passes. Isaiah Thomas, whose jumper with less than a minute remaining was the only bucket by a Celtics starter in the quarter, certainly wasn’t complaining.
“It makes my job easier,” Thomas said of Turner’s play, via The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “I can just sit in the corner and chill while he makes the plays.”
The Celtics entered Tuesday with the NBA’s second-most efficient bench behind only the San Antonio Spurs, and their depth certainly showed on a night when starters Avery Bradley (3-for-13 shooting) and Jared Sullinger (2-for-6) couldn’t find their offensive rhythm.
Let’s check out a few other notes from Celtics-Knicks:
— If the season ended Tuesday, Jae Crowder would be deserving of an Ironman award.
The Celtics swingman battled through a shin injury he suffered Sunday to start and play in his 50th game of the season. He’s the only Celtic to start every game this season.
— Crowder also took his lumps Tuesday, as he was on the receiving end of a flying Carmelo Anthony elbow in the first quarter. Crowder appeared to suffer a bloody lip on the play, but judging by his response after the game, we’re guessing he’s just fine.
“I’m still looking pretty handsome, as you can see,” Crowder joked, via Himmelsbach.
— Wins are valuable these days in the NBA’s crowded Eastern Conference, and Tuesday was no exception.
The C’s entered the night as the No. 6 seed, but a win and a Miami Heat loss bumped them up into a tie for the No. 3 seed with the Atlanta Hawks at 28-22. Boston still is five games back of the No. 2 Toronto Raptors and 8 1/2 games back of the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers, however.
— Celtics forward David Lee will join his former Golden State Warriors teammates at the White House on Thursday, as they’ll be honored for winning the 2015 NBA championship. Boston is off Thursday, so Lee won’t miss any practice time.
“It’s certainly a thing that I definitely can’t pass up, especially since we have the off-day,” Lee told the Globe on Tuesday. “And it’s a chance, one of the final times to kind of celebrate what was accomplished last year.”
— Jordan Mickey, who is rehabbing from a sprained ankle, took returned to the court for some light work Thursday at the Celtics’ last home practice. Stevens is optimistic the rookie forward should be available soon.
“I don’t know if we’ll have him do anything prior to the All-Star break,” Stevens said before Tuesday’s game, via MassLive.com’s Jay King. “But I can’t imagine him not being available after that point.”
Thumbnail photo via Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics defeated the Knicks 97-89.