BOSTON – Before they went on to the floor, Daniel Theis was joking with Terry Rozier about throwing him a lob pass, something both acknowledged Rozier had not done this season.
Before the night was out, the two connected on an above-the-rim finish which as it turned out, was one of the many plays Rozier made in helping lead Boston to a decisive 103-73 win.
That play stands out because, of all the good things that Rozier did, it was his play-making that was the big revelation in his triple-double night of 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists with the rebound and assists numbers both being career highs.
“The fact that he’s hitting guys at the right times, and that’s what I meant when I said he was being very assertive,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “He was coming off to score the ball, he’s looking for guys and making the right plays. That shows a lot of growth from him and I hope he takes this and keeps on growing. When he’s assertive like that, he’s a totally different player.”
And that difference had a lot to do with Rozier starting the game.
In the first quarter, Rozier probed the defense which all but dared him to take perimeter shots.
He did, and in doing so made them pay to the tune of 11 first-quarter points.
MORE FROM NBCSPORTSBOSTON.COM - Kraft acknowledges "tension" for Pats
The defense adjusted and Rozier did the same by getting his teammates more involved and doing what he always does – rebound the ball.
“Just worked out perfect for me,” Rozier said. “Got to knock down shots at the beginning of the game, hit the open man, I’m always going to get in there and rebound. It was just a great night.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens knew before the game that Rozier was going to get ample playing time to make an impact.
In addition to filling in for Kyrie Irving who was out because of a right quadriceps injury suffered at Denver on Monday, Boston was also without Shane Larkin who is still experiencing knee soreness and Marcus Smart who will be out for at least another week because of a non-basketball related laceration to his right (shooting) hand.
“When I got the update on Shane I was pretty sure he’d play 48 minutes,” said Stevens, referring to Rozier. “He did a couple of things that he hasn’t done before with regard to the lob and a couple of the looks that he made, I thought, really quickly. He’s done them before but he made them very, very consistently tonight.
Stevens added, “It was good to see him play well. I’m happy for him. He deserves it.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 103-73 blowout win against the New York Knicks.
Terry Rozier: Making his first NBA start, Rozier delivered in a big, big way for the Celtics. The 6-foot-2 guard tallied his first career triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists – his rebound and assists totals were both career highs.
Enes Kanter: The New York Knicks big man had a double-double by halftime before finishing wit 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Marcus Morris: Boston may have found that necessary scoring spark off the bench with Morris. He was as efficient scoring the ball as we’ve seen him this season, leading the Celtics with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting in just three quarters of play (he suffered a left hip injury late in the third and did not return).
Kristaps Porzingis: This was not one of his better games, but Porzingis did more than enough to remind all in attendance why he’s an all-star this season. He had 16 points for the Knicks on 7-for-18 shooting.
Al Horford: The Celtics big man did a little bit of everything for Boston – including running some at the point. And the end result was a very Horford-like night with contributions coming in several categories. He had 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go with nine rebounds and five assists along with two steals.
Second half Knicks: They played the night before against Brooklyn, which may have been a factor in them showing no signs of fight or resistance to the Celtics’ second half surge which featured Boston scoring more points in the third quarter (31) than the Knicks scored in the entire second half (28).