Lots of folks are dreaming about what the New York Knicks can become this offseason, but in the meantime, they aren’t very good.
The Celtics, however, had their hands somewhat full for a majority of their 113-99 win over a depleted New York team Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with a game-high 23 points, adding 10 rebounds and six assists. Marcus Morris (18 points), Gordon Hayward (14), Al Horford (14), Jayson Tatum (13) and Jaylen Brown (11) also tallied double figures for Boston.
Damyean Dotson had a team-high 22 points and was one of three Knicks in double figures. In addition to injuries to Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, players acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade were unavailable for the Knicks, so they had pretty limited resources.
With the win, the Celtics climb to 33-19, while the Knicks fall to 10-41 with the loss. Since the Indiana Pacers were idle Friday, Boston now owns fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
C’S TAKE FIRST
After falling behind early, the C’s used 8-0 runs near the midway and at the end point of the quarter to get back into the game and ultimately finish the first 12 minutes ahead 25-20.
The Knicks jumped out to a nine-point lead within the first four minutes of the game, but the Celtics jumped ahead at the 5:57 mark. The two sides traded chances the remainder of the frame.
It wasn’t exactly a display of offensive excellence, as the Celtics shot 41.4 percent from the field (12-for-29) in the first 12 minutes, at one point missing six straight field goals. Irving and Tatum both scored a game-high six points in the opening stanza.
BOSTON CREATES ROOM
The Celtics started to show a bit more energy in the second, outscoring the Knicks 31-27 to head into the break up 56-47.
Boston allowed New York to hang around, with the two sides exchanging the lead four times and sharing it twice more during the second. But the Celtics used a 10-0 run over 2:47 to up their advantage to 10 with 3:37 left, ultimately outscoring the Knicks 19-10 over the final 5:14 of the frame.
The second quarter also featured this pretty connection between Terry Rozier and Hayward.
Irving and Tatum led all players with seven second-quarter points and 13 first-half points each.
KNICKS STAY ALIVE
Leading by as many as 14 at one point, the Celtics couldn’t put the Knicks away in the third quarter. The C’s were outscored 26-24 in the frame but went into the final period up 80-73.
The Knicks cut lead to five at the two-minute mark, but the C’s responded by putting together a couple quality possessions to keep their lead somewhat safe.
Most notable in the third quarter was when Knicks fans started unleashing a “We want Kyrie” chant.
Horford led all players with 10 points in the third.
C’S CLOSE DOOR
Despite struggling to create much of a cushion most of the night, the Celtics finally built up their lead in the fourth to close the door. And though things got a little interesting down the stretch, the C’s outscored the Knicks 33-26 in the final 12 minutes to close the door.
It didn’t take long for the Celtics to get on track once the fourth quarter commenced, opening the first 3:47 on an 11-4 run to swell their lead to 14 and force Knicks head coach David Fizdale into a timeout.
The Celtics responded to the stoppage by getting their lead up to 21, but the Knicks still had some fight left in them, cutting the deficit to as few as 10 with 3:32 left.
That was as close as they’d get though, as the Celtics retook control the rest of the way.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics will return to Boston for a tilt with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 2 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports Images