NEW YORK – This latest version of the New York Knicks will not be confused by anyone for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
But the Knicks looked just as lethal against the porous Boston Celtics defense, which seemingly allowed one good look at the rim after another for the Knicks.
And the Knicks made the most of those opportunities as they held on for a 120-114 win over the Celtics.
Boston (19-19) has now lost four straight and six of their last seven games.
There were plenty of factors contributing to the loss, with Boston’s defense standing head and shoulders above the rest.
In the first quarter, the Knicks shot nearly 70 percent from the field and for the game they “cooled” down to just 53.1 percent.
“In the first half, we didn’t have any pressure on the ball,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “The Knicks felt so good after the first half that it’s hard not to think that basket is bigger than it is because of the way we defended them in the first half.”
Boston’s Jae Crowder had similar thoughts on Tuesday’s game.
“We gave those guys a lot of confidence and gave their bench guys a lot of confidence and they made some tough shots late in the game,” he said.
And the end result has the Celtics continue to search for what’s shaping up to be an elusive but much-needed, victory.
“We’re not doing enough of the little things to win these games,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Hopefully it will change.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s game.
It was yet another night when Thomas carried the Celtics offensively for most of the night, both as a scorer and primary distributor. He led all scorers with 34 points in less than 35 minutes, shooting 11-for-23 from the field along with tallying eight assists with just two turnovers.
The 7-foot-3 rookie continues to play beyond his years for the New York Knicks. With Carmelo Anthony (right ankle) out for most of the second half, Porzingis came through with a number of big plays at both ends of the floor and finished with a team-high 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting to go with six rebounds and two blocked shots.
You would think for as long as Afflalo has been in the league, the Celtics would have done a better job against his turn-around jumper in the paint. The Knicks needed a No. 2 scoring option with Melo out in the second half and the eight-year veteran delivered with 24 points, 20 of which came in the second half.
Crowder continues what has been a solid season that has seen him emerge as one of the league’s most improved scorers. In Tuesday’s loss he had 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting in addition to grabbing eight rebounds.
He doesn’t get much love outside of the Tri-State area, but Grant was huge – HUGE – for the Knicks on Tuesday. He came off the bench to tally 16 points on just six shots taken (he made five). Grant also racked up a game-high tying eight assists without committing a single turnover.
This was one of the few games he would play at center and face off against another “stretch 5.” But Olynyk could do little at either end of the floor to help Boston, scoring just five points on 2-for-5 shooting while struggling mightily in defending Porzingis’ perimeter game.
By nature Smart is an aggressive defender, but he seems to be taking it just a step or two too far of late which has led to early foul trouble and more significant, contributed to teams getting into the bonus with lots of time left on the game clock. That combined with him still struggling to make shots, and it adds up to one of the many factors weighing in on the Celtics’ losing skid that’s now at four games.