Porzingis falls back to Earth and Kanter gobbles up rebounds in a tough game to swallow for the Knicks’ third loss.
The Boston Celtics, noticeably without big contributors Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, hosted the New York Knicks on Tuesday night at the TD Garden in Beantown. New York, led by seven-foot-three unicorn Kristaps Porzingis lost to the Celtics, a score of 110–89.
New York struggled from the start of the game, and although the Celtics were grasping at straws on offense too, they soon found a rhythm with sophomore Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum energizing the team with high-flying dunks and cuts to the bucket that left Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Ron Baker out of breath.
Let’s what happened to the young Knickerbockers tonight.
Happy birthday, Jaylen Brown
On his 21st birthday, the young Celtic Jaylen Brown proceeded to cause a ruckus on both ends of the court … and essentially took a dump on the Knicks.
With active hands and a nonchalant defender in Tim Hardaway Jr., Brown was happy to pick up loose balls and push the pace for Boston, dunking and flashing to the hoop in a hurry. Jaylen finished with 23 points on 56 percent shooting, four boards, a steal, and a block in 32 minutes.
Boston’s defense stymies Knicks’ offense
While we knew all too well the Knicks’ defense would be darn awful going into this season, head coach Jeff Hornacek’s offense was mostly flourishing in the preseason (yes, preseason, I know) and the first two games of the regular season.
However, against Boston, a well-coached defensive team, New York had little to no ball movement and player movement and settled on closed-out jumpers and poorly executed post play. This goes double for Porzingis and Hardaway. The two supposed stars of the team dealt with plenty of Celtics defensive energy.
Tim Hardaway Jr., where art thou?
Hardaway was M.I.A. Yes, we covered the Celtics’ defense is an intimidating force, but through three games the $71 million man is lost. On Tuesday night, THJ shot just 2-for-11. For the season, Hardaway’s shooting 24 percent.
Clearly, it’s early, but we’ve learned Hardaway Jr. was bothered by an ankle injury so his shooting struggles could very well be affected by that ankle. Nonetheless, Hardaway looked fairly comfortable on a bum ankle yet tossed up bad shot after bad shot, unlike the open misses from the previous two games. THJ has largely looked lost in the Knicks’ offense.
This was exemplified in the second quarter when Porzingis, double-teamed in the post, swung the ball out to the perimeter to a hand-waving Hardaway Jr., and when the Knicks found the open Hardaway, he proceeded to step on the sideline out of bounds before his drive attempt.
Porzingis falls back to Earth
Kristaps was completely surrounded by Celtics defenders tonight, namely Al Horford. Completely suffocated on offense, KP couldn’t find get his shot falling tonight. Partly his own fault with bad looks, but also a combination of that Boston defense and player movement failure for the Knicks.
Frequently, his teammates would dump the ball off to him in the post and leave him alone. Hornacek’s offense failed, not generating open looks for the team, and for Porzingis, this meant forcing him to take uncomfortable jump shots. KP would leave the game with 12 points on 14 field-goal attempts and five rebounds.
Kanter feasts from inside, Celtics feast from outside
Enes Kanter was active in the interior for the Knicks, while the Celtics bombed New York with a three-point barrage. By the fourth quarter, the three-pointer differential was 11; that is, the Celtics converted on 11 triples and the Knicks laid a goose egg from deep.
Meanwhile, Kanter felt comfortable operating in the low post. Enes finished with 16 points and 19 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass.
Brown and Tatum finished with three and four triples, respectively, and a total of seven Celtics players scored from behind the three-point arc.
The Knicks are not ready to compete with this reloaded Celtics team yet. Despite maybe their only advantage being their bigs, the Knicks failed to keep up with the Celtics pace and great defense.
Hornacek found playing time for Willy Hernangómez tonight; he played 11 minutes — all in the second half — posting 12 points. Knicks fans have been pleading with Hornacek to find time for last year’s first-team All-Rookie center, but he’s still the third center on the head coach’s depth chart.
Despite his struggles containing the Celtics’ young wings, Courtney Lee had a sneaky-good offensive game, scoring 13 points on 60 percent shooting and dishing out three assists. Lee’s role as the team’s de facto starting small forward will continue to spark questions this season for New York.
And lastly, Jayson Tatum is very good. His final stat line: 22 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists, and to blocks for the rookie out of Duke. I can openly say I’m envious of the Celtics for their acquisition of these two immensely talented wings, and that’s the silver lining in losing Hayward.
The Knicks are home against a Lin-less Brooklyn team on Friday, see y’all then!
— Reid Goldsmith, managing editor