The New York Knicks got off to a fast start, but Derek Fisher’s squad couldn’t get out of their funk and ended up falling to the Boston Celtics by a final score of 97-89.
The Knicks were off to tremendous start and had the Celtics on their heels right out of the gates. Aaron Afflalo fueled a 9-0 run to open the game for New York and things were looking good for D-Fish’s team early. However, Boston responded with a run of their own and the game went back and forth until midway through the third quarter.
Fisher’s group registered six costly turnovers in the frame and the C’s broke away from a 64-64 tie to take a five-point lead heading into the fourth. From that point, the Celtics pulled away behind six straight points by Kelly Olynyk to open the quarter. D-Fish explained that Boston’s consistent play from both its units from an offensive and defensive standpoint made it difficult for the Knicks to get in a flow down the stretch.
“They had better balance in their game offensively in terms of what they were trying to do,” Fisher said. “We only had 13 assists tonight which is a low number for us. Against better defensive teams sometimes it happens but we just couldn’t find a combination of guys that could sustain on both ends.”
The Knicks managed to cut the Celtic lead down to four on a couple nice field goals from Derrick Williams and a three-pointer from Afflalo with 7:37 remaining in the game, but Boston responded with back-to-back jumpers by Evan Turner, who soon pushed the lead back to double-digits.
After the loss, Carmelo Anthony explained that the Knicks kept pushing in the third and fourth quarters, but ultimately they didn’t have enough to come away with a win over a talented Celtics crew.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Anthony, who finished the contest with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds said. “We made a push kind of in that third quarter and then we just couldn’t kind of get over the hump.”
Afflalo led the Knicks in scoring with 18 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter. He also added two rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Robin Lopez had an effective game with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds and three blocks in 37 minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis had trouble finding his shot, shooting only 4-of-11 from the floor. He finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot in 27 minutes. Langston Galloway got the start again with Jose Calderon still sidelined, but the second-year player didn’t have a great night. He recorded only one point to go along with nine boards and two assists in 34 minutes.
The Knicks have struggled to find consistency at the point guard position without Calderon on the floor. Injuries have hit at the wrong time for New York in a tough stretch in the season, but Fisher knows the Knicks can’t make excuses—they just have to find ways to win.
“The reality of the injuries is there for sure…it’s impacted us some. But we’re also just kind of in a tough stretch and a tough part of our season right now whether it’s injuries or not,” Fisher said. “There aren’t any excuses and explanations than just not getting the job done in terms of being able to go out and bring the game to our opponent.”
Williams, Lance Thomas and Sasha Vujacic did most of the work off the pine last night. D-Will and Thomas combined for 12 points and four rebounds, and Vujacic led the reserves with 13 points in 18 minutes of action. Sasha also was feeling it from long-range and drained 2-of-4 of his three-point attempts, which was tied with Afflalo for the team-lead.
Fisher and the Knicks (23-28) will square off against the Detroit Pistons (26-23) on Thursday night. New York got the best of Detroit in the only other meeting between the two teams this season in a 108-96 victory on Dec. 29.
The Pistons have been pretty average of late, going 4-4 in their last eight games. Before heading back home to take on the Knicks, Detroit will wrap up its three-game road trip tonight in Boston. Coming into Thursday’s showdown, the Pistons will be on the second-leg of a back-to-back, so Fisher’s Knicks will look to capitalize and get back on track.
The contest will tipoff at 7 p.m. EST from The Palace of Auburn Hills and will be nationally televised on TNT. You can also catch the game on MSG locally.