BOSTON – Lately, shots seemed to fall for just about every player the Boston Celtics put on the floor. You knew sooner or later, Boston would have one of those nights when those same shots wouldn’t fall.
And then there’s the New York Knicks at the opposite end of that spectrum, a team that was overdue for a good night of basketball after having lost 11 of their previous 13 games.
Both worlds collided on Wednesday night, resulting in a 117-106 loss for the Celtics.
- Highlights: New York Knicks 117, Boston Celtics 106
- Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury
- Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'
Not even the usual late-game scoring heroics of Isaiah Thomas could save the Celtics this time. He led all scorers with 39 points but only eight came in the fourth.
Trailing 88-83 going into the fourth quarter, Boston (26-16) had been within striking distance on a number of occasions earlier in the night, only to have the Knicks (19-24) rebuff them with a made basket, or a rebound or a rebound that led to a made basket.
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, seemingly playing uphill most of the night.
No player exhibited Boston’s struggles more than Al Horford.
The four-time All-Star had arguably his worst game as a Celtic, scoring just five points while missing 12 of his 14 field goal attempts.
Even though Boston spent most of the game trailing, it was hard to not think the Celtics would do what we’ve seen them do time and time again of late and that’s find a way to win in the fourth quarter.
After all, the fourth quarter has been good to the Celtics – especially Isaiah Thomas.
He leads the NBA in fourth quarter points at 10.1 per game, the kind of fourth quarter scoring the league has never seen before.
But Thomas never found any kind of late-game rhythm, a similar experience felt by most of his teammates.
It wasn’t just bad shooting that ultimately sunk the Celtics.
Rebounding, which has been a problem for them all season, was a major factor in Wednesday’s outcome as well.
For the game, New York out-rebounded Boston 57-33. Many of those boards were on the offensive glass which was a major factor in the Knicks holding a 24-12 advantage on second-chance points.
And as impressive as Thomas has been in elevating his game in the fourth quarter this season, the Knicks were being led by an equally determined Derrick Rose.
The former league MVP looked like his old self instead of just old, dribble-driving his way in and out of the paint, raising up for stop-on-the-dime jumpers. He would finish with a team-high 30 points.
The Celtics led 34-31 after the first quarter, but spent most of the night afterwards playing catchup to a New York Knicks team that came in having lost 11 of its previous 13 games.
Both Boston and New York were missing key players with a sore Achilles injury. For the Celtics, they were without Avery Bradley (right Achilles) and the Knicks were missing Kristaps Porzingis (left Achilles).