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Brad Stevens kept many of his top offensive weapons on the bench during the second half of Saturday night’s matchup against the Knicks. It showed.

The Celtics struggled to put the ball through the basket while Evan Turner, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk (who missed this contest to rest) combined to play fewer than six minutes over the final two quarters. That trio had entered the game averaging a combined 37 points per game during preseason play.

The offensive abilities of those three players were sorely missed. Without them, the C’s failed to score a basket over the final 8:44 of the third period. All six of their points during that time span were scored from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Knicks had no trouble putting points on the board. They scored 18 over the final 8:44 of the quarter, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from J.R. Smith. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin combined to shoot 8-of-13 from the field during the run.

New York’s lengthy spurt built up a 12-point lead heading into the final period. While Boston did make it a game in the fourth, at one point climbing back to within four points, the Knicks never relinquished their lead and cruised to a 96-80 victory.

Key Player

The Celtics have found themselves a bona fide scorer off the bench, and his name is Marcus Thornton.

Thornton entered Saturday’s action as Boston’s leading scorer with an average of 15.0 points per game. He matched that total against the Knicks while tying Jared Sullinger for the team high in that category.

Brad Stevens told reporters earlier this week that Thornton “has the green light” on offense. Thornton is certainly taking advantage of that freedom. He fired up a game-high 15 shots against New York while dropping five through the net. That’s not a great percentage, but Thornton didn’t force many, if any, of his attempts.

The good news is that the shooting guard made four of his eight shots from inside the arc, as well as all four of his free throws. His 1-for-7 showing from downtown is what marred his shooting percentage on the night.

Regardless of the percentages, Stevens and the C’s have to love what they’ve seen out of Thornton. He’s proving to be a legit scoring weapon off of the bench.

Box Score Nuggets

  • New York scored 28 of its points off of Boston's 20 turnovers.
  • Jared Sullinger and Marcus Thornton tied for the Celtics team high in scoring with 15 points apiece.
  • Boston's 35 free throw attempts were more than three-times the amount that New York attempted (10).
  • Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 16 points in less than 21 minutes of action.
  • The Celtics grabbed only 30 rebounds in the game.
  • New York shot an impressive 52.6 percent from the field.
  • Three of Joel Anthony's four rebounds were grabbed at the offensive end.
  • Seven Celtics committed at least two turnovers, including four from rookie Marcus Smart.
  • Samuel Dalembert blocked more shots (three) than the entire Celtics team (two).
  • Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and Phil Pressey tied for the game high in assists with three apiece.
  • Turner attempted a game-high 10 free throws, making eight.
  • Sullinger shot 6-of-7 from the field, including a 3-of-4 performance from long range.
  • Not a single player on the Knicks roster dished out more than two assists.
  • New York outscored Boston 30-18 in the paint.
  • The Celtics' scoring totals decreased in each of the game's four quarters.

Quote of the Night

He's got even more hunger added to his norm just because of the way last year ended for him. I think he's looking at this as a fresh start.

Brad Stevens on Evan Turner

Key Player

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