In a vital matchup in Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks were able to hold off the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter. The game began strong for the Knicks, as they scored 36 in the first quarter. Most of this scoring came from Kristaps Porzingis, who was scorching hot, netting 16 points in only the first. However, the rookie found himself in foul trouble most of the game and was unable to build on his hot streak.
Melo Leaves With Injury
Carmelo Anthony walked off of the court in the second quarter after his right foot clashed with the foot of an official. He tried to return to the game in the third quarter, lasting only 19 seconds - one mere possession. Unable to play, he was immediately removed from the game and sent to the locker room. The X-rays on his right ankle were negative and he was diagnosed with a sprain. In only 18 minutes, Anthony scored 17 points with an efficient 7-of-10 shooting. He also distributed three assists and pulled down four rebounds in the short time.
Big Night For Porzingis, Fouls Out In Fourth
Porzingis’ night was also cut short; he fouled out after rushing toward Avery Bradley during a crucial, late-game three-pointer. Derrick Fisher was forced to pull Porzingis out of the game on various occasions as his rookie continued to commit unnecessary fouls. Strangely, Celtics coach Brad Stevens assigned 6′4″ guard Marcus Smart to defend the 7′3″ Porzingis. Somehow, the assignment continued to put pressure on Porzingis’ foul trouble. By the time he fouled out in the fourth, Porzingis had 26 points and six rebounds. Porzingis continues to show why he is worthy of his Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month accolades.
With both Porzingis and Anthony unable to log big minutes, Aaron Afflalo stepped up, logging a game-high 40 minutes. The starting guard scored 24 points, many coming when his team most needed it.
Thomas, Crowder Not Enough Despite Stellar Play
The New York Knicks had difficulty containing Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas. The 5′9″ guard penetrated the Knicks defense constantly, continuously making trips to the free throw line. Thomas ended the game with 34 points, 11 of those coming from the free-throw line.
Small Forward Jae Crowder also played a strong game against the Knicks. While having the difficult defensive assignments of Anthony and Afflalo during his 33 minutes, Crowder scored 21 points and pulled eight boards.
Career Night For Grant
Both teams competed until the final minutes. The fourth quarter surprise and star was rookie Jerian Grant. In the fourth quarter alone, he scored nine points. In total, he scored a career-high 16 points and dished out eight assists. He took the challenge to step up when New York's go-to scorers were off the floor.
The importance of this victory cannot be stressed for the Knicks. It continues a good momentum and builds on their win over the Milwaukee Bucks while rolling the Celtics under them in the standings. Most importantly, it inches them closer to the eighth seed. Tomorrow, the Knicks will face the Brook Lopez and the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclays Center, and the Boston Celtics will attempt to bounce back against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers.