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Keys to the Game: Celtics 115, Knicks 87

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Key Moment

Is it possible that the most important play of Wednesday night’s matchup between the Celtics and the Knicks took place when the clock wasn’t even running? On this night, the answer to that question happens to be “yes.”

Carmelo Anthony picked up a foul with 4:44 left in the first half when he chased a loose ball and dove on Amir Johnson’s back. The foul was harmless, aside from the fact that Anthony didn’t believe he deserved it.

The perennial All-Star took exception to the whistle and wouldn’t let it go. He wound up picking up a technical foul after arguing with the referee.

Again, harmless, right?

Well, not so much, because Anthony took exception to that whistle, too.

Melo followed the official over to the scorer’s table near midcourt, then followed him back toward the basket for a good 10-15 feet, chirping in the official’s ear all the way. Typically a player – especially an All-Star player – gets a little extra leeway for arguing after picking up a technical. But Anthony just didn’t stop.

The official gave Anthony a chance to voice his displeasure and stop, but he never hit the stop button and wound up picking up a second technical foul. That whistle resulted in Melo’s ejection from the game at the 4:44 mark of the second quarter.

New York trailed by only six points at the time of Anthony’s ejection. Boston went on to pull ahead by as many as 30 points during the second half and cruised to a 115-87 win, but the game surely would have been more competitive had Anthony been available the entire night.

Key Player

Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points Friday night. But that’s been happening a lot of late.

What hasn’t been happening a lot is the Celtics playing great defense and getting a balanced box score out of their starting small forward.

That changed Friday night against New York, because Marcus Smart was entered into the starting unit and put together one heck of a game.

Smart notched his first double-double of the season by dropping in 12 points while dishing out a game-high 10 assists. No other player in the game accumulated more than six helpers, and Smart finished the contest with a sparkling assist-to-turnover ratio of 10-to-1.

But the stat stuffing didn’t end there. Smart also tallied six rebounds and three steals during his nearly 34 minutes of action. And to no surprise, Boston outscored New York by 22 points while he was on the floor.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston limited New York to 35.1 percent shooting and none of the Knicks scored more than 14 points.
  • New York's scoring decreased during each of the four quarters (27 during the first, 24 during the second, 22 during the third, 14 during the fourth).
  • Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points.
  • Avery Bradley (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Marcus Smart (12 points, 10 assists) accounted for the game's only two double-doubles.
  • The Celtics scored eight more second-chance points (20) than New York (12) despite attempting four fewer second-chance shots (21 to 17).
  • Smart's 10 assists were a game high.
  • Willy Hernangomez tallied a game-high 12 rebounds.
  • New York was whistled for six technical fouls, including two double-technicals that resulted in the ejections of Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Jennings.
  • Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting during his second game back from injury.
  • Bradley also grabbed a game-high four steals.
  • Joakim Noah blocked as many shots (three) as Boston's entire team.
  • The Celtics led from start to finish and pulled ahead by as many as 30 points.
  • Kristaps Porzingis led New York with 14 points.
  • Boston scored 27 points off of New York's 25 turnovers.

Quote of the Night

You know I don't ride the roller coaster of emotions.

A subdued Brad Stevens after being asked about his team allowing 21 offensive rebounds.