It wasn't pretty for the team in green on Tuesday night at MSG. but they found a way to get the job done en route to a 97-89 victory, a win that pushes the Celtics to six games above .500 and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The first half wasn't good for Boston as the Knicks held a one-point lead at the break. The Celtics simply had no answer for Aaron Affalo as he torched them for 11 of the Knicks 22 points. The second quarter, which was also won by the Knicks, featured a strong performance from ex-Laker Sasha Vujacic, who poured in seven points and was also active on the boards. Vujacic is on record saying how much he despises the Celtics after losing to them in the 07-08 Finals, so it was no surprise to see him playing with more energy. The Celtics didn't get beat by the Knicks stars in the first half, they took a beating from the role players though.
After the first 24 minutes were in the books and the Celtics realized they were playing well below their capabilities, they turned up the defensive pressure, which put the Knicks on their heels, and they took over the game. Boston won the third, 25-18, and were led by Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, and Tyler Zeller, three players that were once considered reaches as far as their NBA talent but have carved out their niche in the NBA and continue to improve.
Boston also did damage in the paint, scoring 58 points to the Knicks 28. New York did win the overall rebounding battle for the night, but they lost that advantage when they committed 16 turnovers to Boston's 10; just another game where the team with more possessions and better defensive intensity picks up the win, even if they had some problems scoring in the first half.
The Celtics move to 28-22 and will face the Pistons on Wednesday in Boston while the Knicks will travel to Detroit and wait for the Pistons to return from Boston for a Thursday night showdown.
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