The Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks with a balanced and pretty efficient attack on Friday night. While watching Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani take 46 combined shots, the Celtics got contributions from a variety of places. Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, and Courtney Lee all scored in double figures. The team shot 48% from the field, compared to the Knicks who shot 40%. The Knicks did manage to take good care of the ball. Seven turnovers meant they ended up shooting the ball 12 more times over the course of the game, which helped them keep it close.
Lee got hot in the first quarter, scoring eight points very quickly including two three-pointers as time expired, once it was the shot clock the other the first quarter game clock.
Jared Sullinger was superb in the first half. Forgoing his three-point barrage that he has treated fans to so far this year for a post game against Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire, both of whom were outmatched. His second half was a lot quieter, but so was everyone else's. The teams scored a combined 76 points in the second half, and Bargnani was the only player to score in double figures over the final 24 minutes.
The fourth quarter of this game, like the Celtics last two losses, was close. In this case the end result was different. The Celtics trailed heading into the quarter, and had to chip away at a 79-70 deficit with just under ten minutes to go. After a slow third quarter, it seemed like the Knicks had found a groove and could coast to a win. However, we all forgot something. This is the Knicks, they are not good enough to coast right now.
Enter Avery Bradley. He made the two three-pointers he took in the quarter and had an affect on the pace of the game. With Jordan Crawford struggling to score (0-8 from the floor), and Sullinger only managing two points in the second half, someone had to make a couple big shots. Bradley's first three-pointer pulled the Celtics to within one point, and then his second got the Celtics the lead for good with 2:38 to go.
The fourth quarter has become a time where the Celtics warts begin to show. It's natural, it's where all teams show their weaknesses under pressure. Unlike the losses against the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets, this time the Celtics managed to move the ball and space the floor more effectively. The best example of this is when Jeff Green scored to put the game out of reach. He found JR Smith guarding him and attacked the basket, not settling for a jump shot.
The Celtics were asked a few difficult questions down the stretch of Friday's game, and they answered them emphatically. The final result only tightened the screws a little bit more on the Knicks and Mike Woodson. They are starting to run out of time to get their season turned around.
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