Knicks take down Celtics behind Jalen Brunson's huge night

NBA

BOSTON — The Knicks are still alive for second place.

Beating the best team in the NBA was easy for the rookie team, which trampled a sleepwalking Celtics team in Beantown, 118-109, behind 39 points from — who else? -Jalen Brunson.

“He should win MVP,” OG Anunoby said.

Jalen Brunson scored 39 points for the Knicks during their 118-109 victory over the Celtics on Thursday. AP

The win, which included a 31-point lead in the third quarter, marked the Knicks' third straight win (48-32) and fifth in six games.

They have created a cushion around third place in the East — which they will clinch with a win Friday over a woeful Nets team — and are just one back of the Bucks for second place with two to go.

Since the Bucks own the tiebreaker, the Knicks would have to win (against the Nets and Bulls) and Milwaukee would have to lose their final two games (at the Thunder and Magic).

Anything seems possible now with Brunson involved in Jordan's position and Giannis Antetokounmpo out for the rest of the regular season with a calf strain.

Tom Thibodeau's team is peaking at the right time.

However, Thursday's explosion was a bit misleading.

The Celtics (62-18) were clearly playing with less speed and intensity, having shut down their home court during the playoffs.

The first quarter was competitive, but the Knicks dominated the second quarter with a 19-0 run, taking a 21-point lead into the second half.

game over.

The second half was a 24-minute journey and the culmination of another Bronson masterpiece.

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Josh Hart added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks against the Celtics on Thursday. AP

He played just 30 minutes because of the blowout, one point shy of joining Carmelo Anthony and Bernard King as the only Knicks to score 40 or more points in three straight games.

He shot 15-for-23 — including 6-for-11 from 3-point range — with four assists and two turnovers.

The Knicks outscored Boston by 28 points with Brunson on the court.

“The numbers are staggering,” Thibodeau said.

Brunson beat the Celtics into submission. Trailing by 29 points, Boston emptied its bench at the end of the third quarter — with Jayson Tatum (15 points), Jaylen Brown (15) and Kristaps Porzingis (14) all watching the rest from padded benches.

“Obviously we know they're the best in the East,” Bronson said. “When you play against them, it's always good to know where you are. Obviously we played well tonight. But we know what they're capable of. We got their number tonight. But if it gets to a point where we play again, we know we have our hands full.” “.

Even Thibodeau sat most of his starts in the fourth quarter — though he looked nervous as the Celts made a late push to cut the deficit to single digits. Then he was a bit annoyed in his post-match press conference, calling out a group that had allowed a huge lead to turn into a little suspect.

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics trailed by 31 points at one point against the Knicks on Thursday. AP

“You had to play 48 minutes, and we didn't do that,” the coach said. When “You say, 'How do you evaluate a player? That's how you evaluate a player.'”

Regardless of the late concerns, the Knicks dominated. Josh Hart grabbed 16 rebounds and scored 16 points. Bojan Bogdanovic, who finally found his rhythm after a difficult start with the Knicks, added 12 points.

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It was the Knicks' first win over the Celtics in five attempts this season, but Thursday was the first with OG Anunoby.

The defensive stalwart helped stymie Boston's forwards and scored 12 points in 26 minutes.

This is only the fourth time the Celtics have lost at home this season. And the Knicks finally returned home after an eight-night 3-1 road trip.




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