Have no fear, Kyrie Irving is here.
The Boston Celtics didn’t have their best stuff Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, as the New York Knicks, without Kristaps Porzingis, gave the C’s all they could handle on the second night of a back-to-back.
While the C’s struggled on defense, especially containing penetration from Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Irving notched a near-triple-double at the mecca of basketball, tallying 31 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Boston’s 121-112 win.
Jaylen Brown (24 points), Terry Rozier (14 points), Al Horford (13 points), Jayson Tatum (11 points) and Marcus Smart (11 points) also scored in double figures for the C’s.
Burke led the Knicks with 24 points.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 42-19, while the Knicks fell to 24-37.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Daniel Theis
The Celtics and Knicks both struggled to take the lid off the hoop in the opening minutes, as Boston led 12-9 with under six minutes to play in the stanza. Brown would get it going, however, scoring seven of the Celtics’ next nine points to give Boston a 21-17 edge.
Burke gave his team a huge lift in the final minutes of the frame, though, scoring nine points in four minutes to give New York a 24-23 lead after one.
Brown led all scorers with 10 points in the quarter.
NIP AND TUCK
New York jumped out to a seven-point lead early in the second quarter, as Burke and the Knicks’ bench continued to torment the Celtics.
But Boston responded with a 13-3 run to take a 43-40 lead with five minutes left in the half. The two sides traded leads for the next three minutes before a Horford 3-pointer gave Boston a four-point edge.
A late Emmanuel Mudiay bucket cut the C’s lead to two at the break. Both teams were more efficient on offense in the second quarter, as Boston outscored New York 36-32 in the period.
Burke led all players with 15 points in the half. Irving paced the C’s with 13 points, while Brown chipped in with 10 and Smart added eight.
UNCLE DREW TAKES OVER
After the Knicks took a one-point lead early in the second half, the C’s and Irving responded by going on a 21-11 run. During the C’s flurry, Uncle Drew poured in 11 points, finishing the quarter with 15 points (28 overall). Boston got a little 3-point happy toward the end of the frame, however, helping the Knicks trim the lead to 88-81 after three.
Burke continued to torch the Celtics’ bench in the fourth quarter, helping cut the Boston lead to 99-96 with a little over six minutes to play.
Boston stretched the lead to 10 on a Horford trey with five minutes left, but the Knicks came right back with a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 108-102, causing Boston to take a timeout.
Hardaway Jr. cut the lead to five with 2:41, but Boston went on a quick 6-0 run, highlighted by a massive Brown dunk to seal the win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Throw it down, JB!
The Celtics will hit the floor again Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off from TD Garden is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images