Despite a competitive first half, the Knicks ran out of luck in the fourth against the Boston Celtics.
The Knicks have lost to the Boston Celtics for the third time this season. Sunday’s 113-104 loss at the Garden was yet another example of the Knicks’ inability to close out close games.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with 13 lead changes and neither team going ahead by more than five points. The Knicks broke the halftime tie and held the lead, which climbed as high as nine points, until with 6:33 left in the game Semi Ojeleye hit a corner three.
Boston took the lead off a Jaylen Brown steal-and-score with 5:52 left. Their defensive intensity forced several New York turnovers as they scored nine straight points to pull further ahead.
New York saw a particularly strong performance off the bench from Dennis Smith Jr. His explosiveness made it tough for Boston defenders to stay in front of him. He finished with 17 points while shooting 6-11 from the field and 2-3 on three-pointers while recording a team-high seven assists and two blocks.
CITY JERSEY DSJ 🚲 pic.twitter.com/wtmwOcAVS1— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 1, 2019
Smith’s performance helped make up for Frank Ntilikina being limited to seven minutes due to a sore upper back.
Julius Randle led the Knicks in scoring with 25 points on 8-16 shooting from the field and 10-13 shooting from the free-throw line. He also recorded five rebounds, four turnovers, and two assists.
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics. He recorded 17 points on 6-10 field goal shooting, including 3-5 from behind the arc, as well as six assists in the first half. He ended with 30 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
Jaylen Brown scored 28 points on 11-18 shooting to go along with five boards. Kemba Walker shot just 6-18 from the field and finished with 16 points and 10 assists.
Defensively, Boston frequently used guards, mostly Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker, to guard Julius Randle. Randle used his size to get into the paint time after time, even against Smart, who defends bigs well.
It’s kinda nice having a PF who isn’t completely nullified by Marcus Smart pic.twitter.com/prDFBO5VJF— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 1, 2019
After recording his first career DNP-CD of his short career, Kevin Knox was put into the starting lineup in place of Marcus Morris. David Fizdale said that he wants Knox to “to learn his responsibilities in a different way” now that the team has a slew of veterans to play.
In his return to the court, Knox played decently. He contested shots pretty well on defense but still wasn’t great closing out on shooters. He recorded two blocks in 22 minutes of play, as well as 11 points on 4-9 shooting and five rebounds. He scored eight of his points in the third quarter.
Kanter returns to MSG
Former Knick Enes Kanter faced the Knicks for the first time since being bought out by the team last February. He originally arrived in New York in September of 2017 via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kanter recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes. He was a force on the offensive glass, pulling down six offensive rebounds while putting constant pressure on the glass. However, he also protected the rim poorly, as New York was able to convert frequently.
New York’s next game is Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks at 8:00.