Celtics hold off Knicks at Madison Square Garden
NEW YORK — Isaiah Thomas had 20 points and eight assists, and the Boston Celtics wore down the New York Knicks in a 97-89 victory on Tuesday night.
Jae Crowder and Tyler Zeller each added 16 points, while reserves Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk were also in double figures as the Celtics were fresher and sharper in dominating the final 15 minutes.
Turner had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Olynyk scored 13 points in the Celtics' fifth victory in six games.
Carmelo Anthony had 16 points and 14 rebounds but shot just 4 for 16 in the Knicks' sixth loss in seven games. Robin Lopez added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Arron Afflalo ended a shooting slump with 18 points but had some careless turnovers.
The Celtics had scored at least 110 points in six straight games but turned to their defense in this one after losing 119-114 to Orlando on Sunday. They held the Knicks to 37.8 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers — well, some actually didn't look forced at all.
The Knicks raced to a 9-0 lead and still led late in the third quarter, but threw away any chance of seizing control of the game by turning it over six times in the period, including a hideous stretch of three turnovers in 24 seconds by Afflalo.
The Celtics broke away from a 64-all tie to lead 70-65 heading to the fourth, then opened the quarter with six straight points, sparked by Olynyk.
The Knicks would get it down to four, but consecutive jumpers by Turner midway through the period steadied the Celtics, who soon pushed it back into double digits again.
Anthony fouled out in the final minute, with one of his fouls a rare flagrant on an offensive foul when he swung his arms to get into shooting position and caught Crowder in the face.
Celtics: Crowder started at forward after being listed as questionable with a bruised right shin. ... Amir Johnson was also called for a flagrant foul.
Knicks: Starting point guard Jose Calderon missed his fourth straight game with a sore right groin but appears on the verge of returning. Coach Derek Fisher called Thursday's game at Detroit "realistic." ... Kristaps Porzingis was chosen the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for January. He and Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns, the No. 1 pick, have both won all three monthly honors this season.
Porzingis averaged 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in January against what Fisher considered a difficult schedule. "I thought that no matter what happened the night before, I think he's pretty sturdy in coming back the next night and just finding a way to impact the game," Fisher said. "He may not always jump off the page statistically in terms of 20 and 10 or whatever, but his 14 points, his eight rebounds, his two or three blocked shots, the three or four shots that he changes, all that stuff makes a difference for us, even if he's 5 out of 14 from the field."
Tuesday was the seventh anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 61-point performance, which still stands as the opponent record at Madison Square Garden, in a Lakers victory. Boston's David Lee, then playing for the Knicks, remembers feeling Bryant was out to make a statement by the way he acted before the game and played once it started.
"I remember he hit his first like two shots, but just the way he hit them. I walked over to the bench to D'Antoni and I said, 'Something bad's about to happen. So we need to run a second defender at him, like in the first quarter,"' Lee said, referring to former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. "And Mike said, 'He can't beat us by himself.' He goes, 'We're going to have to settle for that.' And I'm a big Mike D'Antoni fan, but in that case he did beat us by himself. It was not a good ending to that game."
Celtics: Host Detroit on Wednesday.
Knicks: Visit Detroit on Thursday.
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