Celtics Wrap: C’s Blow Out Undermanned Knicks, Earn 50th Win Of Season

Darren Hartwell

The Boston Celtics entered Madison Square Garden on Sunday hoping to hold their top spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and the Knicks offered little resistance.

The Celtics had no trouble handling a Knicks team without star players Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, leading wire-to-wire en route to a 110-94 win.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with *only* 19 points in 24 minutes, resting during the fourth quarter of the blowout victory. Rookie Jaylen Brown tallied 16 points while starting in place of an ill Avery Bradley, while Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Terry Rozier all reached double figures in a balanced scoring effort for the C’s.

Boston improved to 50-27 with the victory, giving the franchise its first 50-plus win season since 2010-11.

Here’s how this one went down.

Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford

Boston’s offense came out firing in the first quarter, going 12 of 18 from the floor to drop 34 points in the frame. Thomas was the catalyst, leading the team with 10 points in the first 12 minutes. The Celtics also benefited from strong passing, racking up eight assists on their 12 made field goals.

Boston’s lead would have been larger, but Knicks guard Courtney Lee drilled a deep 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to bring New York within 11 after the first break.

The Celtics weren’t perfect in the second quarter, but they did enough to maintain their double-digit lead over the undermanned Knicks. Boston went on a run early in the frame, stretching its lead to as many as 18 points on a pair of Rozier free throws with 5:56 remaining in the half.

A few missed shots and careless turnovers allowed the Knicks to creep back, however, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Justin Holliday and Sasha Vujacic in the final minute trimmed the Celtics’ lead to 13 entering halftime.

Smart’s rough 3-point attempt with 30 seconds remaining didn’t do the C’s any favors, either.

Thomas got himself in hot water early in the second half, picking up his 14th technical foul of the season four minutes into the third quarter. Two more technical fouls this season will earn him a one-game suspension.

Fortunately, the All-Star point guard’s teammates had his back, as Boston received contributions elsewhere to stay in front. Horford drilled a 3-pointer at the 7:46 mark of the third to stop a 8-2 New York run, and Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk added buckets late in the frame to stretch the Celtics’ lead to 17 by the end of the quarter.

Boston’s large lead allowed the club to have a little fun in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Brad Stevens emptied his bench to give the Celtics’ reserves some playing time, allowing Thomas to play the role of cheerleader as his teammates made plays like this one from Rozier:

Not to be outdone, Smart joined in on the fun with this alley-oop dunk off a feed from Rozier:

It wasn’t all positive news for the Celtics on Sunday, as Jae Crowder exited the game in the second half with an elbow injury and did not return.

Horford threw down a few thunderous slams, with his finest work coming midway through the third quarter.

The Celtics return home Wednesday for a huge matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were a game back of Boston in the Eastern Conference standings entering their Sunday night matchup with the Indiana Pacers. Tip-off at TD Garden is set for 8 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

Filed under: Boston Celtics, Darren Hartwell, New York Knicks, Top Stories, Yahoo Distribution

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