Derek Fisher and the New York Knicks lost their superstar for the second half but came together and prevailed over the Boston Celtics by a final score of 120-114.
New York has now won five of its last six games and looks to have turned a corner in 2016, working its way to a 20-20 record. After Carmelo Anthony went down with a sprained ankle only seconds into the third quarter and Kristaps Porzingis got himself into foul trouble, Fisher’s group had to step up in order to come away with a win against the talented Celtics.
“Sometimes guys go down whether it’s injury or foul trouble, like Kris tonight, and you need guys to step up and make plays and help win and not be afraid of the moment,” D-Fish said. “We had a number of guys that stood up to that test tonight.”
The Knicks came out of the gates hot in the first quarter, making nine of their first 11 shots and shooting at 66.7 percent to take a 36-27 lead. They were leading 55-41 late in the second when Melo twisted his ankle after running into a referee and the Celtics took advantage in the third.
Boston rallied back behind 16 third-quarter points from Isaiah Thomas and things started to get interesting in the fourth. Porzingis fouled out of the game with 2:44 left on Jae Crowder’s three-point attempt and Crowder made two of the foul shots to give the Celtics a 106-105 lead.
Robin Lopez helped the Knicks regain the lead back after he hit a turnaround shot with 2:21 left and Derrick Williams followed up with a slam with 1:54 remaining. The Knicks held on from that point and never gave the lead back.
A big part of the hard-fought fourth quarter for the Knicks was the play of rookie Jerian Grant. In perhaps the best game of his young career, Grant scored ten of his 16 points in the fourth to go along with eight assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes of action. D-Fish lauded Grant’s impressive performance after the game and explained the impact he had on the winning effort.
“Jerian was big. He made plays for himself and for other people and really impacted the game in a major way,” Fisher said. “I thought he was solid defensively and did some good things. To play against the type of guards that the Celtics put out on the floor and have eight assists and not turn the basketball over, it’s a pretty good effort for a young guard.”
Porzingis had a terrific game despite missing time down the stretch. He finished the contest with a team-high 26 points and also came down with six rebounds and blocked a shot in 27 minutes. Before going down with his ankle injury, Melo was playing solid too. He scored 18 points in 18 minutes on the floor and also recorded three rebounds and four assists while draining both his three-point attempts.
Aaron Afflalo came up huge when Melo was out for the majority of the second half. He scored 20 of his 24 points after Carmelo left the game and also chipped in with three boards and an assist in a game-high 41 minutes. Lopez continued his great play of late with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds, an assist and a block in 26 minutes.
Aside from the stellar game from Grant, Derrick Williams put together a nice game off the bench with the Knicks’ only double-double. He finished the contest with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes. Williams was upbeat after the game and explained how the big team win can be a turning point for the guys to build off of, especially after holding on when two of their best players weren’t on the floor.
“There’s turning points in seasons, and I think this is a good turning point for us,” Williams said. “When KP fouls out and Melo got injured, things like that happen. It’s a team effort, and it gives those guys confidence in us that we can pull out games even when they’re not on the court.”
Fisher and the Knicks (20-20) will square off against the Brooklyn Nets (10-28) tonight at the Barclays Center. In the last meeting earlier this season, the Knicks got the best of their cross-town rivals in a 108-91 win at MSG.
While New York are winners of five of its last six games, Brooklyn is on the other end of the spectrum, having lost five of five of its last six. The Knicks will look to capitalize and make it a 2-0 advantage on the season.
The game is slated to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be aired on MSG.