The Knicks defeated the Celtics in overtime 120-117, handing the Celtics their third straight loss and weathering a valiant comeback effort.
The Knicks were in control for much of the night up until the late 4th quarter, with huge offensive contributions from Julius Randle (37 points) and Jalen Brunson (29 points). In overtime, RJ Barrett played hero, hitting a go ahead three with under 20 seconds left and two clutch free throws following a Jaylen Brown 0/2 trip at the line.
Joe Mazzulla said the team wasn’t executing properly until the 4th quarter, where they erased a 13 point deficit to tie the game.
“At the end of the fourth,” he said, “we picked up our defensive pressure, forced turnovers, and we got to our spacing and passed the basketball.”
With four minutes left, the Celtics nearly stole the win thanks to the heroics of Jayson Tatum, who ended with 35. They also played tight defense down the stretch, forcing the Knicks into playing iso-ball and rushing their shots. Brown, who ended with 22, had an off shooting night and missed two massive free throws with 7 seconds left in OT that could’ve put the Celtics up one.
“I just got to be better,” said Brown. “I’m a better basketball player than I played today, and those two missed free throws embodied the whole game for me. I didn’t get it going, didn’t give my team enough energy to win, and that’s what happens when you don’t come out and give your best.”
The Celtics got good contributions from the bench and capitalized on second chance possessions, but they shot poorly from three and couldn’t match the Knicks offense in the paint. The team stepped up in the clutch and exposed the Knicks’ inability to close out a game, but couldn’t hit shots when it mattered the most.
“It was a hard fought game,” said Mazzulla. “We can’t take possessions for granted. I didn’t think we played consistently the entire game. When we turned it on, we did, so we just have to do that all the time.”
The team will look to rebound Saturday night against the Lakers.