The Boston Celtics made a valiant effort, but they failed to finish off the New York Knicks in an overtime thriller at TD Garden.
After a sluggish start to the fourth quarter, the C's woke up to erase a 13-point deficit and force OT. They had their chances to close out the win, but late-game miscues including a pair of missed free throws from Jaylen Brown sealed their fate, a 120-117 defeat.
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Jayson Tatum, donning a purple armband to honor Kobe Bryant on the third anniversary of his death, led Boston with 35 points. He was huge in the fourth quarter but missed what would have been the game-winner as time expired in regulation.
Brown added 22 points but missed his two most important attempts of the night in OT. Derrick White hit four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.
Knicks star Julius Randle erupted for a game-high 37 points while Jalen Brunson notched 29. RJ Barrett had 19 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in OT.
The Celtics will look to snap out of their slump when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. Here are our takeaways from the C's third straight loss, which brings them to 35-15 on the season.
Celtics can't close
The Celtics struggled mightily to start the fourth quarter, which was highlighted by more late-game turnovers that put them in a 13-point hole with about six minutes left in the frame. But thanks to a late surge led by Tatum, they had their chance to escape TD Garden with an improbable victory.
Tatum dropped 11 in the quarter to help force overtime, though he failed to come through with the buzzer-beater at the end of the regulation. The momentum from the fourth briefly carried over to OT, but poor defense on Barrett's go-ahead 3 followed by Brown's missed free throws put the nail in the coffin. Tatum had only two points in the overtime period.
Altogether, the Celtics shot just 1-for-8 from the floor in the final 3:15 of overtime and were outscored 10-2. Boston was given chance after chance to finish New York off, but it just couldn't take advantage.
A sloppy offensive outing
Tatum, who was selected to his fourth All-Star Game earlier in the evening, was one of the few bright spots on offense with his 35 points on 12-of-26 shooting. That still wasn't enough to hide what was one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory for the C's.
The Celtics shot 41 percent from the floor, marking their lowest field goal percentage since last month's loss to the Indiana Pacers (38.6 percent). They missed several layups, and while their 13 turnovers marked their lowest total since Jan. 16, they resulted in 22 Knicks points. Four of those turnovers came at the start of the fourth quarter to help New York get its 13-point lead.
Boston's bench shot a combined 11-for-32 from the floor. Brown was 8-for-22 and topped off the rough night with two crucial missed free throws. All in all, a night the C's will want to forget when they look to snap the skid on Saturday.
Knicks duo outshines Celtics' star tandem
Tatum and Brown arguably are the best duo in the NBA, but they weren't the best duo on the TD Garden parquet Thursday night.
That label belonged to the Knicks tandem of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, who tallied 37 and 29 points respectively. Randle shot 13-for-25 from the field including five 3s to lead New York to victory. He added nine rebounds and made multiple highlight-reel plays, including this emphatic dunk while being defended by Tatum.
Brunson (12-25 FG, 2-6 3PT) was just as efficient and added a game-high seven assists. Together, Randle and Brunson outscored Tatum and Brown, 66-57. They'll look to join Tatum -- and likely Brown -- at the All-Star Game next month in Salt Lake City.