BOSTON — It was the best look Al Horford could have hoped for given the circumstances as the Boston Celtics trailed the New York Knicks by two points in the final seconds of double overtime.
But the Celtics big man, who was excellent on the night by posting a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds, didn’t cash in on it.
Horford had a solid look from the corner after Jayson Tatum dribbled into the lane and kicked it out to him. But with Knicks center Mitchell Robinson closing out hard, Horford’s 3-point attempt hit the rim and bounced harmlessly away, securing a 131-129 win for New York at TD Garden on Sunday night.
Horford, who finished 6-for-10 on 3-pointers as the Celtics shot a franchise-record 59 triples in the defeat, didn’t blame fatigue for his miss despite playing a season-high 46 minutes. Instead, Horford wished he did one thing differently with his shot.
“Not legs, not tired. I just think I rushed it a little bit,” Horford said. “I probably had a little more time than I thought. … This one, I felt like I didn’t stay in my shot long enough. It was a really good play by Jayson. If I had to do it over again, I’m shooting the same way. Just probably trying to stay into my shot a little more. Just tough.”
The Celtics tried running a play after the Knicks had a shot-clock violation with 22 seconds to go in the second extra frame, but it went awry. Tatum looked for a screen to come with the ball in his hands near mid-court, but there was clear confusion on the floor from the Celtics, which led to Joe Mazzulla stepping in and calling a timeout with 10 seconds left.
The wasted time ended up costing the Celtics as it prevented them from a second-chance opportunity following Horford’s miss.
Coming out of the timeout, Mazzulla put the ball in Tatum’s hands again, and the decision from the Celtics superstar was the right one. The only thing missing was the end result from Horford.
“We just (had) miscommunication, which guy was supposed to come up,” Tatum said of the initial play to begin Boston’s final possession. “Obviously, kind of wasted a lot of time. And that was a good shot. It was just give me the ball coming downhill. Grant (Williams) set a screen, make a play. Took a dribble inside the three, seen that he helped a little bit. Kicked it to Al. I think it was the first overtime I threw it to Al in the same spot. So, great shot. We live with that.”