In Kyrie Irving’s stead, Terry Rozier dices up Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks for the former’s first triple-double in his first career NBA start.
The New York Knicks (23–29) came into TD Garden to face the Celtics (37–15) on the second leg of a back-to-back. Boston, mired in a 2–5 skid, was (theoretically) limited in the backcourt, as Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Shane Larkin all nursed injuries.
The Knicks hung around for a half, trailing by five at the midway point, but—as Doris Burke pointed out—it felt like the Celtics should have been up by more. That was thoroughly adjusted in the second half, as the Celtics rode a red-hot fourth quarter to hand the Knicks their worst loss of the season (Ed. note: if you stay to re-live the bad loss, there’s a cute animal video reward in it for you.)
Without Kyrie, the Celtics displayed a polished and balanced offensive attack. Four starters hit double figures, and Marcus Morris led the team with 20 off the bench before exiting after a scary fall. Boston’s steady defense and clear athletic advantage wore down the Knicks, who wilted as the game progressed. The Knicks didn’t help by continuing their bad habit of taking quick two-point jumpers, shooting 32.2 percent from the field (a catastrophic 3-of-17 from three) and losing the assist battle 27–16.
Plus, the shorthanded Celtics backcourt dominated the Knicks’ perimeter players. Tim Hardaway Jr. (1-of-10 from the floor), Courtney Lee (2-for-8 FG), and Jarrett Jack (1-of-5) combined for 13 points, while Terry Rozier used his first career start to post his first career triple-double (17 points, 10 assists, 11 rebounds), and impressive young wingers Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 29 points. Brown also did this to KP:
Jaylen Brown just yammed on the ? ! pic.twitter.com/09u0xbUOWo
— ESPN (@espn) February 1, 2018
KP had struggled in his first nine career games against the C’s (14.4 PPG), and had been especially dreadful this season against Beantown. He played well in the first half in this one but made few contributions in the second half, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-18 from the field (and game-worst -36). On the bright side, he restored some pride with this retaliatory swat on Brown:
KRISTAPS GETS REVENGE ON JAYLEN pic.twitter.com/Ngkgw3yHBE
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 1, 2018
Enes Kanter followed up his 20-20 on Monday with an inspired 17-17, and was on his way to a bigger line before leaving to have his lip re-stitched (ouch).
Next up for the Knicks: at Milwaukee on Friday, see you then!
As promised, here’s a 12-minute video of cute animals to relieve the pain of being blown out by Boston.