Despite shaking up the starting five, the Knicks lost to the Celtics, possibly losing Jalen Brunson to an ankle injury in the process.

The Knicks (12-9) were back in action in Boston to take on the Celtics (16-5) looking to bounce back after being eliminated in the semifinal round of the In-Season Tournament by the Milwaukee Bucks. In a necessary shake-up to the starting lineup, New York decided to elevate Donte DiVincenzo in favor of the struggling Quentin Grimes. The move wasn’t surprising considering Grimes’ noticeable offensive struggles, but the lineup change wasn’t enough for the Knicks as the Celtics proved why they are best the home team in the NBA, toppling the ‘Bockers 133-123. Knicks fans may also need to hold their breath as they wait for news on Jalen Brunson who limped off the floor with less than one minute left in regulation.

The Knicks and Celtics both started off strong in the first quarter trading buckets. The Knicks’ offensive attack was well-balanced as they got contributions from everyone. After missing his last two games, the Celtics’ Kristaps Porzingis made his return in what’s becoming a habit of missing time and coming back to face New York. He got off to a scorching start, scoring Boston’s first eight points and going a perfect 4-4 from the field. Boston’s Derrick White also had 10 points of his own. The Knicks meanwhile shut down the “Jays” in the first period, holding Jayson Tatum scoreless and Jaylen Brown to just three points. Payton Pritchard would beat the buzzer to give the Celtics a 33-32 lead going into the second quarter after an official review. 

In the second quarter, the Knicks’ bench came alive as they began to take it to the Celtics, igniting a 7-0 run to regain the lead. It wouldn’t last long, however, as Porzingis continued his assault on the Knicks after returning to the game and immediately scoring another nine points. The Celtics offense proved to be too much as Tatum began to contribute offensively with 12 points in the period. The Knicks couldn’t match the Celtics’ offensive intensity as Boston took a 74-65 lead into the second half. It was the second game in a row where the Knicks allowed more than 70 points in the first half after allowing none all season. The Knicks’ leading men had a first half to forget – Julius Randle struggled to protect the ball, committing five turnovers, while Jalen Brunson struggled offensively, shooting 2-7 from the field for just eight points.

The third quarter started shaky for the Knicks as they began the second half without Mitchell Robinson and the offense continued to struggle. The Celtics jumped to an 11-point point early in the third quarter. A frustrated Tom Thibodeau called a timeout as Robinson emerged from the locker room. The break did nothing to tame Boston as they began draining three-pointers extending their lead to 15 with the Knicks seemingly unable to do anything about forcing another Knicks timeout. Again, the breather did nothing to help the Knicks as the troubles continued with them committing back-to-back turnovers as the Celtics extended their lead to 20 points. The Knicks would show some signs of life late in the third going on a 9-0 run to cut the 20-point deficit to 11 but a three-pointer from Al Hordford ended the run with the Knicks trailing the Celtics 109-95 heading into the fourth quarter. 

The Knicks continued to claw back in the fourth quarter as they slashed Boston’s lead cutting it to 10 points but the Celtics kept answering the Knicks with timely buckets to Keep New York at arm’s length. The Knicks caught a break with Jaylen Brown getting ejected from the game, which allowed the Knicks to cut the lead to just seven points.

As the Knicks began to gain momentum Derrick White quashed the Knicks’ comeback bid, scoring a quick four points to give the Celtics an 11-point lead. The Celtics wouldn’t look back, holding the Knicks without a bucket for the better part of four minutes as they improved to perfect 10-0 and handed the Knicks their second loss in a row.

Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett all surpassed 20 points but it wasn’t indicative of the team’s overall performance as the defense struggled in all facets of the game. If there’s one positive the Knicks can take away it is Quentin Grimes responding to being benched with 13 points, his second-highest-scoring game of the season.  

Knicks are back in action Monday night when they host the Toronto Raptors from MSG at 7:30.

Related Content

»Read: Coming off the Bench Could Help Quentin Grimes

»Read: Block Friday: The Mitchell Robinson Leap is Here

»Read: Immanuel Quickley’s Pick-and-Roll Game is Blooming