Everyone was waiting for the moment when Boston would put the Knicks away Thursday night at TD Garden. It finally arrived during the final minutes of the third quarter.
Nearly two weeks to the day after the Knicks led from start to finish against Boston, the Celtics returned the favor. They led all night long, pulling ahead by as many as 28 points, thanks to a red-hot offense that shot 53.3 percent from the field. However, it took until the latter portion of the third quarter for Boston to put its foot down and kick New York’s hopes of victory to the curb.
Leading by only seven after New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. canned a 3-pointer at the 3:49 mark, the Celtics responded with an 8-0 run in a span of only 1:43 of playing time to wrap their hands around the victory.
It all began with a transition, pull-up 3-pointer from Kyrie Irving at the 3:04 mark. Irving took an outlet pass from Al Horford, and four dribbles later, he pulled up from the left wing to drain the trey in Emmanuel Mudiay’s grill.
Irving and Jaylen Brown soon tacked on one free throw apiece to bump Boston’s lead up to 12, and Gordon Hayward closed the run out at the 1:21 mark with a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to make it a 15-point game.
Brad Stevens made sure that the Knicks never had a chance to get back into it from that point on. He did not begin to remove his starters from the game until 3:34 remained on the clock, when the Celtics led by 19 points. Boston’s reserves would go on to blow the game even more open before the C’s closed out a convincing 128-100 win.
Have a night, Al Horford!
Horford did indeed have a heck of a night – the best one of his season – Thursday night against New York.
The big man in the middle matched or set new season highs in points, rebounds and blocked shots against the Knicks. His 12 rebounds set a new season high, while his 19 points and four blocks tied his season highs in those categories.
The performance accounted for the second double-double of Horford’s season. The first arrived on Oct. 19, during Boston’s second game of the season, so he was certainly due.
Horford’s all-around performance, which also featured three assists, spearheaded Boston’s dominant performance against the Knicks. It was surely a welcomed sight following a nice break in the schedule.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston outscored New York in fast break points (26-7), in points in the paint (58-36) and in bench points (56-32).
- Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. tied for the game high in scoring with 22 points apiece.
- Al Horford grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked four shots, falling just one block shy of NY's team total.
- Jaylen Brown, in his return after missing three games, scored 21 points off the bench.
- Brown attempted and made the most free throws in the game, shooting 7-for-9 from the charity stripe.
- Both teams shot 20 free throws, with Boston making 17 and New York making 16.
- Irving also led the game in assists with eight.
- Eight Celtics finished with a plus/minus of at least plus-13.
- Enes Kanter (14 points and 12 rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (12 points and 10 rebounds) each logged double-doubles for the Knicks.
- The Celtics outshot the Knicks 53.3 percent to 39.6 percent.
Quote of the Night
In typical Baynes fashion, he said he’ll do 3-on-3 drills tomorrow after he does full-court sprints and runs a marathon, and then he’ll get ready to play, and he’ll play on Saturday, but I don’t know if our doctors agree with that.
Brad Stevens on Aron Baynes' sprained left ankle.