Celtics

Celtics-Knicks takeaways: C's can't contain Quickley in double-OT loss

Celtics

The Boston Celtics couldn't finish off the New York Knicks on Sunday night as they fell in a double-overtime thriller at TD Garden.

In the wildest game of the Celtics' season thus far, they blew a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and were on the verge of another devastating double-digit defeat before making a late run to force overtime. They were resilient in the back-and-forth OT period but their offense fell flat in double OT as they lost their second straight game, 131-129.

Both teams were shorthanded for the matchup as the Knicks were without Jalen Brunson (foot) and the Celtics were missing both Robert Williams (hamstring) and Malcolm BrogdonJayson Tatum had a game-high 40 points in a losing effort for the C's.  Jaylen Brown chipped in 29 points while Al Horford added 20 with another strong 3-point shooting night (6-for-10).

Immanuel Quickley started in Brunson's absence and notched a team-high 38 points for New York. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett also were key to the Knicks' ninth-straight victory with 31 and 29 points, respectively. 

 

The loss brings the Celtics to 45-20 on the season and it won't get any easier for them Monday night in Cleveland. First, here are our takeaways from Sunday's defeat.

No answer for Immanuel Quickley

Immanuel Quickley got the start for the Knicks in place of the injured Jalen Brunson. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate didn't just step up in Brunson's absence, he was the star of the double-overtime showdown.

Quickley played a whopping 54 minutes and still looked like the most energetic player on the floor throughout the night. He finished with a career-best 38 points on 15-of-28 shooting (5-for-12 from 3).

"He's a good player. So you've got to pick and choose what you're willing to take away," C's coach Joe Mazzulla said of Quickley after the game. "I thought we did a decent job on him at times. We can take away the transition ones, I think. And so he got out in transition on a few baskets in both halves. That's the stuff you've got to take away from him. And just defend without fouling,"

In addition to his scoring, Quickley made an impact with his playmaking and defense. He added eight rebounds, seven assists, and four steals to his stellar stat line.

The Celtics will be glad to not see Quickley again this season unless these two teams meet in the playoffs. The 23-year-old has averaged 26.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor in his last three games vs. Boston.

Another blown lead

After blowing a 28-point lead to the Nets on Friday night, the C's watched their 14-point lead over the Knicks disappear. Randle's buzzer-beater 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter capped off an 18-5 run that gave New York the lead heading into the final frame.

The Knicks carried that momentum into the early part of the fourth quarter as they went on a 28-7 run over seven minutes. Their five-minute scoring drought allowed the Celtics to force OT, but Boston was unable to take advantage.

Despite another blown double-digit lead amid a rough stretch, Mazzulla isn't concerned.

The Celtics will need to prove this isn't becoming a trend when they visit the Cavaliers on Monday night.

Al Horford still scorching from 3

If there was one positive to take away from the Celtics' crushing loss, it was Al Horford's continued dominance from beyond the arc.

The veteran big man had his best performance of the season with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from 3 in 46 minutes. He also played a huge role in Robert Williams' absence with 14 boards and added six assists with two blocks for good measure.

Horford is shooting a ridiculous 23-for-37 (63.9 percent) from deep since the All-Star break. He drilled the go-ahead 3 with 29.2 seconds left in overtime.

Unfortunately for Boston, that wasn't enough. The game was decided in double OT after Horford's corner 3 in the final seconds missed the mark. Still, Horford has been one of the Celtics' few bright spots during this rough patch. They'll miss the 36-year-old on Monday as he'll sit out the second night of the back-to-back.