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Celtics nearly erase 23-point deficit but fall 97-89 to Knicks in Summer League action

Dalano Banton scored 18 and Jay Scrubb 16 for Boston.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Boston Celtics v New York Knicks
Dalano Banton paced the Celtics with a team-high 18 points.
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The first half of Friday night’s Summer League clash between the Celtics and Knicks was basically a loop of the Knicks figuratively pulling the football away from the Celtics at the last second.

Only this time, Charlie Brown wasn’t the one falling flat. He was the one making the opposition’s life miserable. Brown Jr., a 6-foot-6 guard out of St. Joseph’s, erupted for 20 points before the break, helping the Knicks build a commanding 19-point lead.

But the Celtics, like every plucky TV underdog, weren’t out of it just yet. They found their mojo in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to nine heading to the fourth and nearly rallying before falling, 97-89.

Dalano Banton paced the Celtics (1-3) with 18 points and nine rebounds, Jay Scrubb added 16 and Justin Champagnie chipped in 14. Brown Jr. finished with 27, and Trevor Keels added 20 for New York (2-2).

Boston had its moments in the second half, however a slow start was ultimately too much to overcome.

The Celtics didn't have much luck playing zone, repeatedly losing track of cutters and giving the Knicks easy looks.

Brown shot 8-of-11 from the field in the half, powering the Knicks to a cushion that reached as high as 23 and sat 57-38 at halftime. Keels added 12 before the break, and production came from a variety of sources.

On the other end, Boston turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter and looked out of sorts offensively early.

Fortunately, Jordan Walsh (13 points) and Scrubb were ready to respond. Scrubb led the way with 8 in the half, Olek Balcerowski added 7 and Walsh and Banton scored 6 apiece.

At times in the first quarter, Boston’s best offense was giving its guards room to operate and letting them beat their man off the dribble. That wasn’t sustainable, though, and the Celtics realized they’d have to move the ball better to compete. The Knicks had 14 assists in the half compared to seven for the Celtics.

The Celtics made some noise early in the third, starting the quarter on a 20-9 flurry to cut the deficit to 66-58. Champagnie, who scored just two points in the first half, caught fire from downtown to make it 75-66 heading to the fourth.

It got as low as two, 77-75, on a Banton 27-footer, but the Celtics ran out of steam. Brown, fittingly, buried a corner 3 to seal it.

Boston faces the Orlando Magic on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET to wrap up Summer League play.

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