Thursday’s 102-93 win over the Boston Celtics could serve as an important lesson for opponents of the New York Knicks. The league needs to learn that the ‘Bockers can beat just about anybody...as long as the game is played at MSG. The Knicks now have wins against the top three teams in the East: Cleveland, Boston and Toronto. The orange-and-blue crew is also more than just Kristaps Porzingis, who returned to action, but was held to a single point on 0-11 shooting. The Unicorn sat out the fourth quarter as the Knicks outscored Boston 34-25 while most featuring a five-man unit of Frank Ntilikina, Ron Baker, Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn.
One thing the league already knows, however, is not to mess with Michael Beasley—he is your favorite player’s favorite player, after all. The Celtics may have the league’s No. 1 D, but Beasley cares not for such numbers. The only numbers Beas concerns himself with are field goal attempts and brain use percentages. In just 24 minutes of game action, Beasley scored 32 points on 13-20 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds, turned the ball over 5 times, and lead all Knicks with a plus-18 rating. It was Beasley who brought the Knicks back from the edge of oblivion when they were facing a facing a nine-point deficit and a surging, confident Celtics squad late in the third. Naturally, the MSG faithful serenaded him with “M-V-P” chants before the end of the quarter. Far from finished, the SuperCool One scored 18 points in the fourth as the Knicks finally pulled away from those green goblins. It was a performance for the ages.
—Kyrie Irving technically matched Beasley with 32 points, but he shot a paltry 3-8 in the final quarter as the Knicks gave him a taste of Frank Ntilikina’s defense. (Also Doug McDermott shut Kyrie down on a switch, which was delightful.) The Frenchise had problems with the Celtics’ pressure defense late in the game, but he spearheaded the Knicks’ defense and hit two massive threes. Methinks Kyrie and Frank will be going after each other many times over the next few years. On this night, however, the the game ball ball belongs to Beasley, and the quote belongs to P&T’er Knicks Fans Know How to Suffer: 11% of Beasley’s brain > Kyrie’s Flat Earth.
—Yes, Kristaps was terrible. But you have to respect his passion. The Unicorn was furious with himself after being removed for foul trouble/ineffectiveness in the third quarter.
Kristaps Porzingis just left for the tunnel, he took a moment to pace. Walked back and forth slowly as he collected himself. Then returned to bench and rejoined team.— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) December 22, 2017
Kristaps quickly returned to the bench, though, and was cheering on his teammates in the fourth. At least we know he gets as angry as we do when the Knicks are failing to perform against the dreaded Celtics.
—Enes Kanter had a perfectly Enes Kanter game, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Almost all of his work was done early, as he was just a rebound short of double-double in the first quarter. He appeared to re-injure his neck—first injured when Andre Roberson fell on him during the Thunder game—but stuck it out for a while before Hornacek removed the starters for good.
—Credit Hornacek for sticking with what worked—he stuck with that wack 5-man unit as they answered every Celtics mini-run in the fourth quarter. Thursday was in many ways an extreme example of what we’ve seen all year: The starting lineup isn’t the lineup you want out there in late in the game when most NBA teams go small. At least Kristaps is usually out there, though.
The Knicks have a massively huge game coming up, as they must figure out a way to compete on the road against the Detroit Pistons.