Man oh man! Here's the thing: That was a moral victory. Even though Carmelo Anthony turned his ankle and sat the second half, even though Kristaps Porzingis could barely help because of foul trouble, and even though the Knicks trudged through lots of muck in a sloppy, sluggy game, New York hung around with a very very feisty band of Celtics. That was deeply heartening by itself.
But uh...they also won. They got an *actual* victory. Despite the muck, and despite losing Kristaps completely with a few minutes to go, the Knicks found a way. Arron Afflalo immediately recognized he had to get the torch out, and he set nets aflame with a variety of slick drives and turnarounds. And out of nowhere, Jerian Grant gritted his teeth, stayed calm through some ugly possessions, and delivered a series of passes, buckets, and free throws that kept New York ahead. That was unbelievable poise, and a career night. Those big plays combined with some stops by Robin Lopez -- recovering well from some struggles against Jared Sullinger -- earned the Knicks a win they happily could have squandered. What a way to get back to .500. I'm talking too much. Let's look at stuff.
Kristaps and Melo dominated the first quarter. It was nuts. Kristaps had 16. I'd like to reiterate that it was nuts.
EDIT: 5/5 pic.twitter.com/3JPLVheH7Z— vineydelnegro (@vineydelnegro) January 13, 2016
REPLAY: Watch that first step... @carmeloanthony w/ the drive & jam! #NYKvsBOS pic.twitter.com/qWpbEESpRr— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 13, 2016
Fisher left some dudes out there and watched Lopez get into foul trouble, which meant the bench friends had a rare (recently) chunk of the second quarter to themselves. They managed to tread water by drawing lots and lots of fouls. The Celtics will foul you if you invite the fouls. I'm glad Derrick Williams and company did that.
Then Melo stepped on a ref:
Looked like Carmelo Anthony slipped on either a wet spot or the ref or both. Left to locker room. pic.twitter.com/NuGExB9nZ7— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) January 13, 2016
He tried to come back, but the ankle wasn't having it. Kristaps did his best to stay dominant without fouling:
KRISTAPS PORTOMBO https://t.co/H9CJ3Kwc3X— Rob Perezingis (@World_Wide_Wob) January 13, 2016
But he gave a couple iffy ones and one very silly one, and had to go. Thankfully, Afflalo was in full-on Fauxbe Bryant mode:
Afflalo scores 10 of his 14 in the 3Q to help the #Knicks maintain their lead. NYK 85 BOS 81 heading to the 4Q. pic.twitter.com/De39VN8sxg— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 13, 2016
And Grant not only hit some tough shots but made some incredibly solid feeds both late in the clock and, at his best, very early in the clock:
REPLAY: @DWXXIII smashes the jam on the fast break! #Knicks 114 Celtics 113 43.7secs 4Q. #NYKvsBOS pic.twitter.com/yE8BIwRlyQ— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 13, 2016
(He passed that. I messed up DVR-wise here, so that's the best we've got.)
Grant had 15 and 8. Afflalo had 24 on 18 shots. Lopez had 15 on 7 and played another minute without a shoe. Kristaps only played 27 minutes but dropped 26 points, including a confident jumper in the fourth quarter, right when momentum was building. Derrick Williams found 15 and 10 somewhere. Melo will be okay, I think, even if he needs to sit a bit.
Big buckets, big stops, lots of diving and clawing and snatching and reaching. I'm dazzled. That was really tough and really fun, Knicks.