The Knicks fought hard but a red-hot third quarter from the league-best Celtics doomed them down the stretch.

The New York Knicks (34-23) welcomed the Boston Celtics (45-12) back to MSG for their fourth meeting of the season. The Celtics have dominated the season series winning all three of the previous match-ups. The Knicks took the floor again without their starting frontcourt of Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, and Mitchell Robinson. Despite all that, this contest had all the makings of a statement game for the Knicks on prime-time TV. While Boston has a stranglehold on first place in the East, New York is still fighting for real estate in a tight race atop the conference standings. Despite a close first half, the cream rose to the top in the second as the Celtics proved why they are the best team in the NBA, dominating the Knicks in a 116-102 win. The Knicks are now 0-4 versus the Celtics this season with one more match-up left in April.

The game started off with excellent shooting from both teams. Jalen Brunson scored nine of the Knicks’ first 14 points as they took an early lead, but it wouldn’t last. The Celtics responded with five quick points led by Jaylen Brown’s hot start as Boston took a slim one-point lead forcing a Knicks’ timeout midway through the open quarter. The Knicks responded by regaining the lead but the Celtics answered with a couple of three-pointers and some opportunistic defense leading to easy baskets allowing them to hold to a four-point, 30-26 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

The second quarter began with an 8-4 Celtics run as they built their lead to eight. Thibs again didn’t like what he saw, called another timeout, and again his team responded by cutting Boston’s lead to just three points. The Celtics would not be deterred however, keeping the Knicks at bay with their continued impressive shooting. After some rest, Brunson reentered the game and quickly made a dent in Boston’s lead helping cut it to four points as the Celtics took a 62-58 lead going into halftime. But the story of the first half was the JBs, as Brunson led the Knicks with 19 points and Brown led the Celtics with 20. The Knicks connected on nine threes and nine offensive boards but the Celtics shot 67% to offset that in the first half. 

Josh Hart started off the second half by knocking down a three-pointer to cut Boston’s lead to one. Derrick White answered with a score in the paint but on the other end, Brunson was able to complete a three-point play to tie the game up at 64. Boston, refusing to cool off all night, went on a three-point barrage, knocking down nine of eleven attempts from long distance to take full control of the game as they took a commanding 20-point lead late in the third quarter. The Knicks on the other end struggled to keep up but were mercifully able to be down just 13 points at the end of the third as Boston took a 97-84 lead into the final quarter. 

Despite the Celtics’ near-historic shooting pace, the Knicks entered the fourth quarter on a 13-2 run, cutting Boston’s lead back to single digits. But Boston’s aggression on the offense boards in one possession where they had five shot attempts allowed them to take the Knicks’ momentum away and go on a 10-0 run to get their lead back up to 19. Boston coasted the rest of the way as the short-handed Knicks fell short of their rival.

Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 34 points to go with eight assists. Josh Hart filled the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Donte DiVincenzo struggled to get it going but knocked down four three-pointers for 12 points on the night. The rest of the Knicks left much to be desired in the evening as the bench was only able to come up with 25 points; 11 of those from Miles McBride. 

All Celtic starters surpassed double-digit scoring lead by Jaylen Brown with 30 and Kristaps Porzingis with 22. 

The Knicks are back in action versus the lowly Detroit Piston Monday at 7:30 PM.

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