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Celtics outlast Knicks despite early shooting troubles, win 97-89

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The Celtics were able to overcome poor shooting early on in the game to beat division rival New York Knicks.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics got off to a slow start offensively and defensively.  The Knicks were able to capitalize off of mismatches, especially with Arron Afflalo on Isaiah Thomas.  But after a few minutes of scoreless basketball, Boston was able to convert a flagrant foul, in which Carmelo elbowed Jae Crowder, into a five-point play.  The call was certainly questionable, but Crowder took a strong elbow to the face.  Carmelo was sent to the bench early on with two fouls but the New York bench players were able to step up and score right away.  Coming off a weak game against the Warriors, Afflalo dominated the first quarter with 11 points.  Boston finished the first quarter on 0-8 shooting from the three point line.

The Celtics never really got anything going in the first half, and the scoring was relatively spread out.  Isaiah had a nice first half beating defenders off the dribble.  They also held Carmelo in check, but still struggled against Affalo and Robin Lopez.  The Celtics continued to struggle from behind the arc, tossing up bricks left and right.

Boston and New York continued the low scoring game with back and forth scoring, and when the Celtics finally began to pull away, the Knicks converted a 5-point play with free throws and a Carmelo three.  Robin Lopez continued the absolutely dominate the glass, especially on offense.  He had a double-double early on in the third quarter.  When the Celtics realized that their jump shots weren't falling, they began to attack the rim...and it worked.  They played a lot tougher offensively, not settling for three pointers as much.

The Knicks crawled back into the game with spark plugs off the bench.  Sasha Vujacic and Derrick Williams contributed with threes and putbacks respectively.  Vujacic shot 2/4 from behind the arc with 13 points.  Luckily, Evan Turner was able to answer with a buckets of his own.  Zeller also put together a nice fourth quarter with 8 points and 6 rebounds.

As poor as the Celtics shot early in the game, the Knicks put together an even weaker performance.  The Celtics were able to pull out the win despite scoring troubles and that is mainly because of their defense.  Marcus Smart was all over the place, and Turner and Crowder played physical with Carmelo.  Overall, it was an unimpressive win due to turnovers and sloppy play, but the Celtics put together a way to win and it worked...so props to coach and the players for executing.