Friday, April 12, 2024

Knicks 118, Celtics 109: Jalen Brunson leads highly motivated New York team over C's

The Celtics (62-18) fell to the New York Knicks (48-32) in their fifth and final regular season meeting 118-109 Thursday night at TD Garden.

In what could be the final tune-up for the Celtics key rotation players before the playoffs, it was another relatively quiet showing for them. It was a game the Knicks needed to win to stay in the hunt for the number two seed in the Eastern Conference, while Boston has already locked up the top record in the NBA.

The game had been somewhat close in the first half, although the New York had been in control and in the lead for most of it. It was tight initially due in large part to the Celtics starting off 5-of-10 from 3-point range, but they then went 6-of-32 from long distance the rest of the way. Then halfway through the second quarter, the Knicks went on a 22-3 run and never looked back.

The Knickerbockers' charge was led by All-Star guard Jalen Brunson, who poured in 39 points on 15-of-23 from the field and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. Josh Hart also came up huge with the hustle plays for New York -- ended up with 16 points, 16 rebounds and five assists on 7-of-15 shooting. Overall, the Knicks finished with six different players in double figures, the same way it did against the Celtics in Tuesday night's 104-91 loss in Milwaukee.

Payton Pritchard was the most efficient Celtics scorer with 16 points, six assists, on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, despite Jayson Tatum putting up 18 points (5-of-13) and seven assists. Sam Hauser chipped in 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep off the bench and Jaylen Brown also netted 15 points (6-of-15), before key rotation players rested for much of the second half.

The possession battle was the name of the game in the contest, with the Knicks securing 17 offensive rebounds while taking 13 more shots. Effort level was likely the cause in the disparity of shot attempts, which C's head coach Joe Mazzulla addressed afterwards.
"I did not like the effort level in the first half. I think it's just a tough spot to be in," Mazzulla said when talking about the East standings. "I thought our guys handled it as best as they could. Our last two games we ran into two teams that are highly, highly desperate. As much as we want to be able to simulate that that's just not the position we're in."
The Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets (20-60) in what will be Grant Williams' first game in Boston since being traded last offseason. The penultimate game of the regular season is tonight at 7:30 pm ET in the second half of a back-to-back.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 46.5% from the field, including 16-of-42 (38.1%) from 3, while the Knicks were 49.5% from the floor and 14-of-36 (38.9%) from long distance. The C's were out-rebounded 52-36 and outscored in the paint 56-40. The Celtics handed out 25 assists (12 turnovers) on 40 baskets and New York dished out 24 dimes (15 turnovers) on 49 made shots.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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