BOSTON — With 17 seconds left and the New York Knicks trailing by one, everyone at TD Garden knew who was getting the ball.
That’d be Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who bricked a 3-point attempt at the buzzer Friday to allow the Celtics to escape with a 105-104 win.
A Boston victory seemed improbable with 4:16 remaining, when New York held a 100-92 lead. Yet the C’s returned from the brink again using a formula quite different from that of Anthony and the Knicks.
The Celtics’ 13-4 run to close out the game featured big plays from nearly half the team’s roster. Isaiah Thomas started things with a strong driving layup. Jared Sullinger hit Jae Crowder with a pair of perfect outlet passes that cut New York’s lead to one. Evan Turner hit a clutch jumper with 36 seconds remaining to put Boston in front. And after another Anthony jumper, Avery Bradley delivered the eventual game-winner on a finger-roll layup with 17 seconds left.
The C’s may lack a true “closer” like Anthony, but that hasn’t stopped the team as a whole from making big plays late in games: Boston now has overcome double-digit deficits in its last four games and is 4-0 in its last four contests decided by five points or less.
According to head coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics’ recent success in clutch situations all starts with the right mindset.
“I think that belief is created over time by doing things, by accomplishing something,” Stevens said. “I do think that if you’re able to win a couple close games, or are able to execute, or you’re able to get stops or whatever the case may be, I think that does build a trust and a belief that you’re going to have a shot.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Celtics-Knicks:
— The C’s got contributions from everyone down the stretch, but Turner led the charge. Eleven of his season-high 21 points came in the second half, and he contributed clutch bucket after clutch bucket to help complete Boston’s comeback.
“We don?t win this game without him, and we probably don?t win the last New York game without him,” Stevens said of Turner. “For whatever reason, he?s been very good in these particular games. He?s usually good anyways but these particular games he?s been very good.”
— The Celtics’ late surge helped preserve a little history for the home team.
Boston extended its home winning streak to 13 games, which ties its single-season record for the longest such streak at TD Garden, set by the 2009-10 club. The win also completed a perfect 5-0 homestand for the Celtics, marking the first time they’ve swept a five-game homestand since March-April 2009.
— It appears Boston’s success at the Garden has made the Celtics one of the hottest tickets in town. According to Vivid Seats, the median price for a ticket to Celtics-Knicks was $159, quite the leap from this season’s median price of $75.
— Sullinger celebrated his 24th birthday Friday, and he did so in style. The Celtics big man fell one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. It’s the eighth time in 10 games he’s recorded 10 rebounds or more.
— Boston’s win moved the club to 38-25, just four and a half games behind the Toronto Raptors for second place in the Eastern Conference and six and a half games back of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who they’ll play on Saturday. So, do the Celtics have a shot at catching the Raptors before the season ends?
“Of course. I think so,” swingman Jae Crowder said. “It’s just a matter of us locking in, not overlooking any opponent and taking care of our business day by day.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images