When Jalen Brunson was ruled out with foot soreness, it seemed to kill the excitement surrounding this Knicks-Celtics matchup. Nonetheless, the game didn’t disappoint, as the Knicks won 131-129 in double overtime, with Immanuel Quickley having the game of his life, finishing with a career-high 38 points in 55 minutes. He also had 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. Julius Randle (31 points and 9 rebounds) and RJ Barrett (29 points and 11 rebounds) also had great games for New York, who extended their winning streak to nine.
The Celtics couldn’t avenge their loss to the Knicks from earlier this week, but they fought until the end. The Knicks went on a 21-2 run at the end of the 3rd and into the 4th quarter. Boston trailed by 7 points with 1:25 remaining but were able to force overtime. Jayson Tatum finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Jaylen Brown had 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. Horford hit clutch threes at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but couldn’t hit the final shot of the second overtime. He finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks. The Celtics were without Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon.
Quickley, starting in place of Brunson, opened the game with a deep straightaway three, and Derrick White, starting in place of Williams, answered by swishing a three on the other end. The Knicks led the entire quarter but the Celtics went up 31-28 after a Tatum three with 35 seconds left, his 16th point of the period. Julius Randle responded with a three, but White got an and-1 offensive rebound put-back, and Boston a 34-31 lead after one.
"He makes so many winning plays."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 6, 2023
Derrick White just won't STOP making the right play pic.twitter.com/79LqXL1ZtZ
RJ Barrett scored 14 1st quarter points and the Knicks shot 48 percent from the field. The Celtics didn’t shoot as well, but they had six offensive rebounds and 11 second chance points.
After Jaylen Brown hit a pull-up transition three and Boston took a 42-35 lead, they seemingly had all the momentum. But Quickley’s menacing two-way presence tilted it back in New York’s favor. He got a steal in the backcourt and finished the open layup, and offensively pushed the pace on every possession. His rebound and hit-ahead pass initiated this beautiful transition sequence:
OBI TOPPIN WHATS POPPIN pic.twitter.com/4AOlMVM2Jx— Knicks Post (@knicks_post) March 6, 2023
This immediately prompted a Joe Mazzulla timeout, who was not happy following this play.
Mazzulla showing some emotion. Frustrated after the Knicks get an easy leak-out, calls timeout, comes over to bench, has some words and tosses clipboard on the ground.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) March 6, 2023
A Randle floater gave the Knicks a 54-50 lead with just under three minutes left in the half, and the Celtics responded with an 11-0 run, leading 61-54 at the break. Both teams had 10 first half turnovers, but the Celtics’ 11 offensive rebounds and 5 steals were the difference. Tatum scored 19, Brown had 17, Grant Williams didn’t score but was a team high +12 in 16 minutes, while White had 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The second half opened with some great 1-on-1 matchups with Smart guarding Randle, and after Smart got elbowed in the face, the refs called the offensive foul. Randle wasn’t pleased, made incidental contact with the ref, and got called for a technical foul. The review of the technical foul and possible upgrade to a flagrant took about five minutes and killed the momentum of the playoff-like atmosphere.
Each time the Celtics looked to take control, the Knicks came roaring back. Grant’s three at the 6:22 mark gave them a 77-63 lead, then Quickley answered with a three and Mitchell Robinson finished an alley-oop. Horford hit a three to give the Celtics a 12-point lead, but Quickley responded with two outstanding defensive plays, the first was a block on Jaylen that led to a coast-to-coast finish, the next was a steal which turned into a Barrett transition layup.
Quickley scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter, and Julius Randle’s step-back corner three at the buzzer gave the Knicks an 88-87 lead heading into the fourth. They shot 62 percent in the quarter and ended it on an 18-5 run.
Mike Muscala got called for an offensive foul setting a screen and Barrett came back with a three to give the Knicks a 98-89 lead with 9:04 remaining. The Celtics looked dejected. New York ended the 3rd quarter on a 9-0 run and opened the 4th on a 12-2 run. Horford broke the run with a right-wing three and the Knicks called timeout, hoping to halt any Boston offensive flow.
It didn’t work. Jaylen finished a driving layup in heavy traffic, Tatum hit a smooth step-back three, then he found a seam and threw down a two-handed dunk. The Celtics trailed 102-99 with 6:33 to play. The game became a frenzied rugby scrum and we saw some great individual defense from both teams. Neither team scored on their next four possessions, but Jaylen’s and-1 layup tied it at 102 with four minutes remaining.
We got another five minute delay after Smart got hit in the man parts and the refs reviewed the play for a hostile act. Jaylen missed an elbow jumper then Quickley hit a floater, Josh Hart converted a layup, and Randle splashed a three to give the Knicks a 111-104 lead.
The Celtics looked done, but Horford responded with a three the next possession, and Smart, who had a rough shooting game, nailed a corner three with 18 seconds remaining. One point game. The Celtics got two clutch offensive rebounds, the first by Grant and second by Jaylen.
After Randle hit two free throws to give the Knicks a 113-110 lead, the Celtics had a decision about going for two or three on the final possession. They opted to go to Jaylen in the post, who backed down Quentin Grimes and hit a one-handed push shot, got fouled, and hit the free throw. Tie game. The Knicks had plenty of time, but Randle, trying to back down Grant, got the ball stolen by Jaylen. It seemed like he’d have a chance for a final heave, but time expired and the game went to overtime.
Both teams looked exhausted. Smart and Hart traded threes, then Barrett hit a free throw to give New York a 117-116 lead with 1:50 to play. Grant and Randle each hit free throws on loose ball fouls and the Knicks led 119-118 with 44 seconds left. On the next Celtic possession, Smart drove to the paint and dumped it off to Tatum. He then found Horford open in the corner, who splashed the three over Robinsons contest. Celtics led 121-119.
The Knicks came right back, and who else but Immanuel Quickley hit a 10-foot floater to tie the game. On the final possession, the Celtics didn’t call timeout, which worked the previous play, and seemed to work this time too, despite the brief confusion on the floor. The play took a long time to develop, but Tatum eventually got the ball and drove past Barrett. The 5-foot floater was short, and we had double overtime in the TD Garden.
Quickley scored 7 points in the second overtime and the Celtics missed their first 4 field goal attempts. Tatum had struggled in both overtimes, but scored on three straight possessions to make it a two point game. Horford had a good look from the corner in the final seconds, but it fell short. The Knicks won 131-129.
The Celtics have now lost three of their last four, and they travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers tomorrow at 7:00 pm EST.