Keys to the Game: Celtics 121, Knicks 112
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
The Boston Celtics held a lead for almost the entire second half of Saturday night's game at Madison Square Garden, but the New York Knicks managed to stay within striking distance all the way up until the final two minutes of regulation.
The C's needed to make a devastating blow to shake off the persistent Knicks, and they got exactly what they were looking for at 1:55 mark of the fourth quarter.
It was a play of pure beauty involving all five Celtics on the court.
New York had the ball, trailing 113-106, looking to make it a two-possession game. Trey Burke drove from the top of the arc to the basket with Marcus Smart draped all over him the entire way. Unable to find a good look, Burke kicked out a wild pass to Tim Hardaway Jr. in the right corner. Hardaway Jr. leapt across the baseline to save the ball from going out of bounds and flung an off-balance pass back out toward the top of the arc where Lance Thomas was waiting, wide open.
But the ball never reached Thomas' hands. That's because Jayson Tatum used every spring in his legs to jump up and tip it back to Al Horford. As soon as the ball landed in Horford's hands, he tossed an overhead pass to Kyrie Irving, who had already begun streaking up-court.
Michael Beasley was able to keep up with Irving every step of the way, but Boston had strength in numbers. Jaylen Brown was trailing the pair, so Irving dished a perfect, behind-the-back pass to his eager teammate, who flushed home an emphatic, uncontested dunk to put Boston ahead, 115-106.
The nail in the coffin. And it was beautiful. pic.twitter.com/r4CvjVay5I— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) February 25, 2018
Moments earlier, New York had the opportunity to make it a four-point game, but Boston's flawless defensive execution led to a fast-break bucket, which extended its lead to nine points.
It was a nail-in-the-coffin type of play that shifted all momentum into Boston's favor, allowing it to run away with a 121-112 win.
The bright lights of Madison Square Garden seem to bring out the best in Kyrie Irving. Saturday night was no exception, as the Celtics point guard dominated all facets of the game while nearly logging a triple-double.
Irving tallied a game-high 31 points, along with nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals. He also only turned the ball over twice during his 35 minutes of action.
Nearly half of Irving's points were scored during a four-minute stretch in the third quarter, when he scored 14 consecutive points for the C's. He shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the 3-point line during that third frame and finished the night with a 6-for-12 mark from long range.
Irving also notched a game-high plus/minus rating of plus-22, making him the brightest light inside Madison Square Garden Saturday night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field.
- Trey Burke came off the bench to notch 26 points for the Knicks.
- Irving and Burke both led their respective teams with eight assists apiece.
- The Celtics shot 24-of-28 from the free-throw line with no player missing more than one attempt.
- Al Horford logged the game's only double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
- Horford also blocked three shots, equaling New York's total tally in that department.
- The Knicks had 10 steals, with each one being tallied by a different player.
- The Celtics recorded 11 steals as a team. Jayson Tatum snagged four and Marcus Smart had three.
- New York's bench had a dominating, 56-36 effort over Boston's bench.
- Daniel Theis logged six points and seven rebounds during his second start of the season.
- The Celtics turned the ball over only 12 times.
Quote of the Night
He's one of the best players in the world. Put him on a platform at Madison Square Garden, and you know it's showtime."
Jaylen Brown on Kyrie Irving