Did that just happen? There’s no way that really just happened.
Holy crap, that just happened.
The Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah-less Knicks went to Boston to play the Celtics and won. And they didn’t just beat them, no. They, like, beeeeaaaattt them.
Yup, this one felt good.
I would be remiss not to apologize for an important omission from my preview piece from earlier today: Boston’s games seem to follow a very predictable format. They exchange buckets with their opponents for the majority of the game before absolutely putting them to bed with big 4th quarters.
Early on, the Knicks looked like they were just not going to be able to keep pace with the Celtics at all. Isaiah Thomas was setting a dazzlingly fast pace on offense as he usually does, and Boston’s bench was as lethal against the Knicks as they were in their first two meetings.
Then, with about 2:30 left in the first quarter and the Celtics up 28-19, New York went on a tidy 12-6 run to close out the quarter down just 34-31. It turned out to be a portent of things to come.
Though the game did get close at later points, it would hardly ever again feel as close as it did then. The Knicks stepped on the gas, and by about the 8-minute mark of the 2nd quarter, they grabbed a 39-38 lead with a Courtney Lee bucket.
From that point on, something strange happened. It almost felt like, maybe, for the rest of that game, the Knicks were in control. They were answering Boston’s runs, they were setting the pace offensively, they were making tough shots, and they were taking advantage of stops. I had forgotten what it meant to be in control of a basketball game and whoooaaaahh Nelly is it ever fun.
I haven’t seen that from the Knicks–at least not a team this good–in a very, very long time. And they did it without Kristaps! (Please come back, Kristaps.)
The perfect example of New York’s nerve and verve came at about the 8-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Jaylen Brown had just made two free throws, and New York’s lead had become a slim 97-96.
As usual, all of the thoughts came rushing through my head. You all know which ones I’m referring to. The bad ones.
But no, Justin Holiday and Courtney Lee put in back-to-back three pointers pushing the lead back up to 7. Those shots were flat out clutch, and showed the type of response to an opponent run that they had been seriously lacking all year...or at least all month. Take that, Kelly Olynyk.
From there, the game was well in hand for the Knicks. Derrick Rose had yet another great game, putting up 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He also had a couple drives to the bucket that looked like...ugh, I won’t even say it. But his stuff was working tonight, dammit! And lucky it was, for Carmelo Anthony (13 points, 5-14 shooting) was below par in this one.
This game will probably be remembered as the Willy Hernangomez Game when he takes his place in the Hall of Fame, because of the way he halted a rough patch of his rookie season with a magnificent 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. But it probably ought to be remembered as the game that saw the Knicks’ second unit carry them to a win over a far superior opponent. Oh, let me count the ways...
- Justin Holiday had 13 points on 4-8 shooting, including said clutch-ass three to stifle Boston’s fourth-quarter run.
- Lee had 9 points, 8 boards and 7 total assists, including 6 in the first half alone...6!!!! The bench role definitely suited the veteran shooting guard, as he took control of the offense when surrounded by younger, deferential players. As P&T’er Porzingis Almanack noted, his basketball skills surpass his Instagram skills.
- Brandon Jennings had 11 points and not that many turnovers, which was nice as well.
- Hell, even the Plumlee brother that’s on the Knicks had himself a nice 5-point, 7-rebound game. Don’t let those modest numbers deceive you, he looked like he genuinely pissed the Celtics off every single time he had the ball and that may as well be worth 1000 points and 10,000 rebounds.
But enough about that, let’s laugh at this stuff now.
Ahhhhh yes, Horford was beyond trash tonight and Olynyk did not have an impact on this game at all. The Celtics bigs looked to be — in Tim Thomas parlance — fugazi, as the Willy-Plumlee duo dominated them off the boards.
Isaiah Thomas on Knicks dominating boards: "They punked us."— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) January 19, 2017
Y’all got Plummed, son!
In the end, New York did exactly what they had to do; trade buckets with the Celtics, and control the game to the point where they would never be able to go on a huge fourth-quarter run, as they have been wont to do. This was the exact type of win they can maybe build on, and it was one we’ll enjoy until the next game.
Oh what’s that?
Crap. We do. But at least it’s at home against the Wizards, who are 4-13 on the road. If they can build on tonight’s win and turn it into a bit of a streak, that would be nice. Then when Kristaps comes back, who knows what could happen.
Oh my, it just hit me! We freaking beat Boston without Kristaps!!!
I need a drink.