Second-half collapses have been the story of the Boston Celtics' season, but they were able to avoid another disaster in Saturday night's rematch vs. the New York Knicks.
The Celtics took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter at TD Garden and didn't look back as they went on to win in a blowout, 99-75. Jaylen Brown notched the first triple-double of his career while Jayson Tatum chipped in 19 points.
Boston was happy not to see Evan Fournier, who dropped a career-high 41 points in the Knicks' win over Boston on Thursday night. The former Celtic, who's averaged 35.0 points in three games against the C's this season, was ruled out for Saturday's game with a left thigh contusion.
RJ Barrett led New York with 19 points two days after drilling the game-winner at Madison Square Garden. Immanuel Quickley, Fournier's replacement, had 18.
Here are three instant takeaways from the Celtics' victory, which brings them to 19-21 on the season. Next up is another home game Monday night vs. the Indiana Pacers.
Jaylen Brown does it all
Brown's playmaking has left plenty to be desired, especially in the Celtics' last two losses to the Knicks and San Antonio Spurs. The All-Star wing had only one assist in both of those games.
In Saturday night's win, Brown dished out more assists than his last five games combined. He set a career-high with 11 assists, topping his previous high of 10 from Feb. 11, 2021, against the Toronto Raptors. His season-high was six.
Brown also notched the first triple-double of his career. The 25-year-old finished with a stat line of 22 points (9-15 FG), 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and a steal.
Brown doesn't need to tally 10+ assists per game for the Celtics to win games, but there's no doubt his playmaking is a significant difference-maker. This was a performance he'll look to build off of as Boston enters a make-or-break stretch ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
Marcus Smart, Rob Williams set the tone on D
Smart was a disruptor throughout the contest, especially in the third quarter when Boston limited New York to only 18 points. The veteran point guard finished with four steals, just one less than his season-high. He also showed off his chemistry with Williams for one of his two assists on the night.
Williams brought his block party from New York to Boston as he followed his seven-block performance with four more in Saturday night's win. The 24-year-old is averaging 2.2 blocks per game this season.
Time Lord finished with 12 points and seven rebounds to go along with his four blocks.
Josh Richardson steps up for the second unit
With a modest offensive output by Tatum's standards, the Celtics needed someone else to score alongside Brown. Josh Richardson answered the call.
Richardson contributed 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Seven of those points came from the charity stripe, and the seven-year veteran also hit two of his three 3-point attempts. He also provided some hustle on the defensive end with a steal and a block.
Richardson has been a fantastic addition for Boston this season. The 28-year-old is shooting a career-high 46 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3.