Playing on the second night of a back-to-back and without Al Horford, it seemed like the Celtics would have a tough night against the Knicks, who entered the game as the league’s top rebounding team. They ended up having their best offensive game of the season, winning 133-118 behind 30 points from Jaylen Brown and 26 from Jayson Tatum.
The Celtics hit their first five 3’s and took an early 10 point lead as the Knicks missed their first five shots. Julius Randle responded by scoring 11 points in the opening six minutes and Derrick Rose added seven off the bench. Back-to-back 3’s by Sam Hauser (aka Sammy Smooth) and a buzzer beating 25-footer from Evan Fournier gave Boston a 32-29 lead after the 12 minutes.
They opened the second quarter scoring on 9 of their first 10 possessions, taking a 14-point lead after Hauser (aka Sam Shuttlesworth) drilled a right wing three. The Knicks halted the momentum by attacking the basket and earning 10 free throws. RJ Barrett’s three with 11 seconds remaining gave him 16 second-quarter points and New York a one-point lead, but Derrick White converted on a last-second tip-in and the Celtics 67-66 led at halftime.
Boston hit 13 first-half 3’s and Jaylen Brown led the way with 21 points, but eight turnovers and seven Knicks offensive rebounds kept the game close. Jaylen Brunson had an efficient 10 points and 7 assists while Jayson Tatum went scoreless in the second quarter after 8 points in the opening frame.
Both teams remained sizzling on offense in the third quarter. Brunson scored or assisted on the Knicks first 14 points while Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 12 points and the Celtics maintained a slim lead. Hauser (aka “The Hausing Crisis”) drained his sixth three immediately upon entering at the 4:13 mark, then Brown splashed a three on the next possession.
Before the quarter ended, Grant and Brogdon each converted from deep, giving the Celtics 21 3’s through three quarters, and they led 101-96 going into the final period. The Knicks stayed in the game by scoring 48 points in the paint.
Both teams finally decided to clamp down on defense to start the 4th. Noah Vonleh had a strong offensive rebound over Isaiah Hartenstein, kicked it out to Brogdon, then got a second offensive board and converted on the putback to give Boston a 108-101 lead. A few minutes later, he hit a corner three, and after two Brown free throws, the Celtics led 116-105 with six minutes to play.
But the Knicks didn’t back down, responding with a Barrett turnaround jumper and back-to-back layups from Hartenstein and Randle. Tatum answered by hitting two 3’s, setting a Celtics franchise record for 26 3’s in a game. He was dominant in the 4th quarter, scoring 13 points and leading Boston to a 15-point win.
The Celtics finished the game going 27/51 from deep. They tallied 30 assists and shot 53 percent from the field. Smart had 13 points and 11 assists, Brogdon added 14 points and 5 assists off the bench, while Hauser scored a career high 17 points. Boston next travels to Memphis to play the Grizzlies at 7:00 on Monday.