The Celtics beat the New York Knicks 133-123 win Friday night at TD Garden, in a matchup between the two East teams that were eliminated from the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Derrick White led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-10 from deep. Jayson Tatum had 25 points, five assists and Kristaps Porzingis made his return from a four-game absence (left calf strain) to finish with 21 points -- after hitting his first seven shots without a miss.
It felt good, it felt good," Porzingis said in his postgame comments about getting back on the court. "[I'm] happy to be back, it felt good to be back out there. I was itching to get back out there with my guys and [I'm] happy about beating a good team like the Knicks. The calf felt good, clean, nothing, no tightness, nothing...perfect. Shout out to our medical staff."
Jrue Holiday recorded 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Al Horford added 14 points, 10 rebounds off the bench to help Boston improve to 10-0 at home and a 16-5 record overall.
But the story of the game was Jaylen Brown getting ejected with 7:19 left to play when he picked up two technical fouls after being whistled for his fifth personal foul.
"To be honest with you I don't know," Brown said to reporters when asked why he was tossed after scoring 17 points. "For my first career ejection, I thought some guy would punk it up, go to the ground and not some over-emotional ref who had a bad day."
According to crew chief Mark Lindsay, he told the pool reporter that "the second technical foul was called for a wave off directed at the official, which under the respect of the game guidelines is considered an overt gesture and an unsportsmanlike act."
Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett each had 23 points respectively to lead the Knicks, who dropped to 12-9 on the season. Julius Randle notched 20 points and Immanuel Quickley chipped in 17 points for New York.
The Celtics were ahead 74-65 at the break, following a 41-point second quarter and 58.3% shooting in the first half. Boston went on a 25-14 run to start the third period capped off by a Brown 27-foot step back (one of five made 3-pointers for the C's in that span) to give them the largest lead of the night (99-79).
The Knicks trailed 119-106 when Brown was thrown out of the game and cut their deficit to seven on a quick 6-0 spurt, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way. The Celtics would respond with an 8-4 run of their own to put away New York for good.
With Porzingis back in the lineup, Boston is now 11-1 when they have a clean board of health -- something coach Joe Mazzulla was pleased about.
"You got to see a glimpse of the identity of what our team could look like on a nightly basis," Mazzulla said when asked about Porzinigis' performance. "I keep saying this to the team, [but] success is going to look different every single night. I thought Derrick was great, I thought it was great to see Jrue be aggressive and I thought Kristaps was good."
The Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-9) on Tuesday and again Thursday, before they face the Orlando Magic twice at home all within the next eight days.
Boston connected on 52.7% of their field goal attempts, including 19-of-47 (40.4%) from 3-point territory, while the Knicks hit 50% from the floor and 15-of-37 from beyond the arc. The Celtics outscored the visiting team in the paint 52-50 but were out-rebounded 44-34. Boston dished out 24 assists (eight turnovers) on 48 baskets to New York's 28 dimes (12 turnovers) on 44 made shots.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images