With just under nine minutes left in tonight's fourth quarter, Celtic forward Jonas Jerebko drove to the basket. Cleanthony Early and Quincy Acy both went all-out for the block. Their combined effort forced a Jerebko miss, but left Kelly Olynyk alone underneath for the put-back.
With eight minutes left, Olynyk missed an open three in transition. There were three Knicks and just one Celtic, Jerebko, underneath. Early needlessly shoved Jerebko. Loose-ball foul.
With just under two minutes left, Andrea Bargnani cut an 11-point deficit to five. On Boston's next possession, Jae Crowder took a pass at the three-point line and drove right past Lance Thomas, all the way to the hoop. Neither Bargnani nor Early rotated. Crowder drew a foul and hit two free throws.
That was the Celtics' 96-92 win over the Knicks in a microcosm: good intentions eroded by wave after wave of playing hard but not smart, good efforts canceled out by poor decision-making, crescendoes of hope silenced by straight-up suckage. It wasn't even a little pretty to watch: the teams combined to hit only 25% of their 44 three-pointers. They committed 28 turnovers and 48 fouls.
But it was entertaining, the way a game between fourth-graders is. No one played well, but everyone played hard. 20 players suited up and 10 scored in double figures. The Celtics grabbed more rebounds; the Knicks outscored them 46-32 in the paint. New York trailed throughout, never far enough behind to let Boston relax, never close enough to threaten them. The Knicks chased the dragon all night. But you can't catch the dragon. Or Evan Freaking Turner, somehow.
- Shane Larkin hit his first four shots, scoring eight of the Knicks' first 16 points. He went 3 of 9 (6 points) the rest of the way and passed up a three-pointer with about five seconds left and the Knicks down six. Godspeed, Shane.
- According to Elias, both Bargnani and the Knicks set individual and team modern-day records for most shots to rim out in a single game. OK, that's according to me. But seriously: Bargs had at least eight shots more in than out miss, and the Knicks had double that.
- At the half, both teams were 17 of 39 from the field. Boston's assist-to-turnovers = 12-6; NY = 11-7. Defensive rebounds: 16-15, Celtics. 18 of the 19 players to play scored in single digits. Only Bargnani was in double-figures. All Andreas are equal, but some Andreas are more equal than others.
- Walt Frazier wasn't the only Knick legend honored tonight. In a throwback to the Patrick Ewing era, they kept going to Bargnani in the post, over and over again, through the first half. He pretty much missed them all, but finished strong, scoring 25 points on 10 of 20 shooting. And he had four assists! In the first half! And hit a couple threes! I don't know which was more surprising.
- Early finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Looked like he may have have hurt himself with 11 seconds left. Call it the tank taking its tithe.
- When Jason Smith opens his eyes in the morning, he's already committed at least two fouls.
- As this difficult season winds down to a close, Quincy Acy ain't exactly the bluebird of happiness, is he? Another tech tonight for the non-Harden Bearded One.
- Cole Aldrich could learn a thing or two from Acy's jump hook. That's the saddest thing I've ever written.
- When the Knicks signed Ricky Ledo, Seth shared a video somewhere of like a dozen breathtaking passes by Ledo. I don't think I've seen Ledo pass since. (Word - Seth)
- After Crowder missed a jumper, Walt Frazier labeled him "erratic" because he "makes one, misses one." That's 50% shooting. 50% is only erratic if you're Wilt Chamberlain.
- Does Cle have the handle to succeed as an NBA wing? Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes -- hopefully this is a function of still being such a young player -- defenders zero in on him and it's like a wolf cornering a rabbit.
- Didn't Olynyk play Mitch Kramer in Dazed and Confused? Isn't a guy named "Olynyk" destined to play for the NYK?
- MSG played a clip of Derek Fisher wishing Frazier a happy 70th birthday. Fisher, like my father, says "birfday." You won a fan for life tonight, Fish.
- After The Four Tops (who are only one Top, Seth pointed out) sang the national anthem, Mike Breen asked Frazier if they were his favorite group ever, clearly expecting a "yes." Frazier paused for longer than was comfortable. Love you, Clyde.
- If "What would it look like if Clyde commandeered Breen's brain?" ever kept you up at night...sleep long and deep tonight, friend.
The Raging Platypus "*throws tomatoes*" at games like this. It was that cliched, that predictably disappointing -- two teams giving their best effort, a best that clearly wasn't very good; clearly, the Knicks would linger but never overcome. This was a poorly written movie with dedicated actors; a purgatory of foreplay with no sex. Next matchup is tomorrow in Chicago. At least Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller won't be calling the game.