Written by William Lee
New York matched their longest winning streak all season, collecting their fifth straight win Wednesday night defeating Boston 116-92.
An extremely thin frontline, got thinner Wednesday night, as Tyson Chandler did not play due to personal reasons for a second consecutive game, and Amare Stoudemire sat out to recover, who has been playing tremendous basketball both on offense and defense. Without Chandler and Stoudemire, Cole Aldrich stepped into the starting lineup. To the Knicks credit, every player stepped up to the challenge, especially Aldrich and Earl Clark, who saw meaningful minutes due the decimated frontcourt. Aldrich collected a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, along with three blocks for a +19 +/-. While Earl Clark didn’t have an impressive stat line, his impact overall was felt, stepping into the rotation, giving excellent back up minutes (particularly in the second quarter when Anthony was resting), proven with the best +/- of anyone, +22.
The Knicks scored 68 points in the first half, which were the most points scored in a half by New York. New York put on a three-point shooting clinic in the first half, connecting on 9-of-10 from beyond the arc. Both Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. connected on three-threes. Anthony started off strong, as per usual, with 13 points in the first quarter. J.R Smith got off to a hot start as well, scoring nine of his 13 points in the first quarter, helping build a 36-24 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
Tim Hardaway Jr. provided a huge lift off the bench, scoring 12 of his 22 points in the second quarter. New York was unconscious on offense Wednesday night, scoring at a 60.5% clip in the first half, leading 68-48 at the half. The Celtics defense looked like they were imitating the Knicks’ defense, constantly switching out bigs onto New York’s perimeter players, which forced mismatches in favor of the offense. This is scenario that played out for most of the first half, if the double didn’t come, Anthony easily scored on crossover dribble pull ups, and if the double came, the ball swung around the perimeter for a wide open three. New York handed out 15 assists on 26 made field goals in the first half.
As beautiful and wonderful basketball New York played in the first half, it was that much worse in the third quarter. New York regressed to the mean, shooting 29.4% from the field in the period, and was only able to convert on five field goals. The Celtics got back into the game with two mini runs to start and end the third quarter, both powered by Jeff Green. Green single-handily kept Boston in the game, scoring 17 of his 27 points in the third quarter. Celtics went on an 8-0 to cut into the deficit 72-60 with 8:27 remaining in the third quarter. Green then finished the third quarter on a personal 7-0 run to cut the deficit to single digit 84-75 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
The slim hope of a comeback for Boston was quickly shut down by the Knicks, as they stumped on the Celtic’s throat to start the fourth quarter. Pablo Prigioni knocked down a three, seconds into the fourth quarter. Then the final nail in the coffin was on a play where Boston’s full court press got the Knicks setting up the offense extremely late into the shot clock. Anthony seemly unaware of the time about to expire, realized at the last second and heaved one up from beyond the arc, connecting, and destroying any hopes of a Boston comeback. Carmelo Anthony finished the game with 34 points and 9 rebounds.