BOSTON — The Celtics looked like they were going to run the Knicks off the court early, building a 15-point lead powered by multiple 3-pointers. But the Knicks weren’t going away easily, putting up what was their own 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But the Celtics stormed back late, using a 16-4 run to force overtime. But the Celtics weren’t able to finish off the victory, falling 120-117 to the Knicks on Thursday at TD Garden. Jaylen Brown missed a pair of crucial free throws with 7.6 seconds left that would’ve put the C’s in the lead. The Knicks finished off the win from there. Boston lost its third straight game to fall to 35-15 on the season.
While the TD Garden crowd buzzed off the energy of the Celtics’ hot start, the Knicks were unbothered with the early deficit. The Knicks heated up themselves and forced a game from there, erasing their deficit in the second quarter.
New York turned it up in the third quarter, where it outscored Boston 33-25. When the Knicks went up 13 points more than midway through the fourth quarter, the Celtics looked like they were out of juice. But that’s when they finished the quarter on a 16-4 run to force overtime.
Jayson Tatum’s game-winning attempt as time winded down in regulation was off, which led to overtime. The Celtics also had multiple chances to push it to a two-possession game late in overtime, but they left the door for the Knicks. Brown’s missed free throws also buried the C’s as they weren’t able to finish off the clutch victory.
Tatum led the Celtics with 35 points and 14 rebounds, including a great fourth quarter. Brown had 22 points and nine rebounds. Julius Randle had 37 points and nine rebounds while Jalen Brunson added 29 points and seven assists for the Knicks. Marcus Smart continues to be out for the C’s with a right ankle sprain.
Boston continues its home stand by taking on the Lakers at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at TD Garden. Here are four takeaways from Boston’s loss to New York:
Can’t finish the game
The Celtics needed almost everything to go right down the stretch facing a 12-point deficit with 5:26 down the game. Randle scored a couple tough buckets to stunt momentum, but the C’s did force overtime from there. Tatum was huge down the stretch, and he got some big buckets from his teammates. But the Celtics weren’t able to beat the Knicks in overtime as they lost their third straight game.
When the Celtics built up a 15-point first quarter lead, they got plenty of production from Tatum. The newly-minted All-Star starter started 5-for-5 from the floor for 12 points before sitting for his usual break midway through the first quarter. While Tatum cooled off in the middle quarters, he was important in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points. But Tatum and the Celtics couldn’t finish it off from there as Tatum had just two points in overtime.
Couldn’t slow them down
Both Randle and Brunson are vying for the All-Star game as reserves, and each player can put Thursday’s game on their resume. Randle carried the Knicks early and Brunson shook off a somewhat slow start as the Celtics had trouble stopping New York’s two best players. Randle was putting up poster dunks while Brunson continued to solidify himself as a scorer. While the Celtics stopped the Knicks down the stretch in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t enough in overtime.
Dipping into the depth
While the Celtics were a lot healthier Thursday, Joe Mazzulla still dipped into his bench for some production. Payton Pritchard earned a recent uptick in playing time, and he was the third Celtic off the bench. He quickly hit some shots and injected some life as he finished with seven points and three rebounds. Sam Hauser also got some run as he hit much-needed shots for the Celtics, putting up eight points. Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams had tough shooting games, but Brogdon had big 3 down the stretch as he closed out the game for the Celtics.