The New York Knicks (27-23) defeated the Boston Celtics (35-15) by a final score of 120 to 117 in overtime. For the Knicks, Julius Randle finished with 37 points, nine rebounds and five made threes, while Jalen Brunson tallied 29 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists, while Jaylen Brown added 22 points and nine rebounds.
For a brief moment, this felt like this game was moving into blowout territory. The Celtics led 25-10 in the first quarter and the thought was “game over,” which was fair given that the Celtics are the best team in the conference. Tatum got off to a hot start and Brown was right behind him on the scoring front. For a moment, it felt like a night where the Knicks were just going to be outplayed.

Then the game slowed down and the Knicks got back into it. Randle was effective, creating on the offensive side of the ball, but an off-the-bench Immanuel Quickley was key in getting New York back into the game. Quickley scored 15 points in the first half with a combination of outside shooting and impressive scoring within the arc. It didn’t matter if he was being guarded by defensive stalwarts like Derrick White or Jaylen Brown, the Celtics had no answer for Quickley.

The Knicks fought back and turned an early double-digit deficit into a two-point deficit heading into the second half.

That momentum carried into the third quarter, where the Knicks’ defense was buzzing. Whether it was cutting off Boston drivers or switching screens and remaining in front of a Celtic scorer, the Knicks were everywhere on defense and the result on the other end was easy baskets and an eight-point lead, the highest for the Knicks at that point. Credit Quentin Grimes and RJ Barrett on the perimeter, sliding their feet and pressing Boston ball-handlers and Jericho Sims for serving as a last line of defense.

The combination of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle on offense also leveled up in the third quarter. Randle was menacing, attacking Boston’s defense to the result of some clean finishes at the rim and some nice mid-range jumpers after making space. Meanwhile, Brunson did Brunson things – gliding and weaving around the paint, getting the Celtics off-balance, and knocking down some timely shots. New York’s defense was the star of the show in the third, but the Randle-Brunson duo was an effective co-star.
Even though the Knicks seemingly had all the momentum, the Celtics weren’t going away quietly. To start the fourth, Brown got a few easy looks, including an impressive drive to the basket, but it was Tatum who went into closeout mode to get the Celtics back within four points with a 14-4 run for Boston. The Randle-Tatum fourth-quarter duel ultimately ended up with no winner. Boston tied the game up and went for a late game-winner. Tatum missed, Robert Williams got the rebound and Jericho Sims blocked his put-back attempt, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, New York remained competitive. Randle put the finishing touches on an offensive masterpiece with his shot-making, while Brunson got aggressive and attacked the paint. Still, the Celtics were on fire. Defensively, they picked up the intensity and continued through overtime with the doubling and switching screens. Offensively, Tatum carried the offense, but the offensive rebounding combination of Horford and Robert Williams resulted in extra possessions for Boston.

In the end, free throws were the difference. Jaylen Brown, with a chance to give the Celtics the lead, missed two free throws in a row, giving the Knicks the victory in a thrilling, back-and-forth game.

— Julius Randle was excellent and looked like a star on offense. The dunks have been great lately, the shotmaking was great and as New York’s offense sputtered, Randle took it upon himself to get the ball and score. A fun back-and-forth battle with Tatum and some solid defensive positions throughout. A really great game for Randle tonight.

— Immanuel Quickley was excellent in the first half and had his minutes jerked around in the second half. 28 minutes is normally great, but in a game that both went into overtime and saw Quickley carry some of the offense for a significant part of the game, it felt like he could have been used more. His overall play was great; with the combination of attacking the paint, outside shooting, and good passing after breaking through the defense, I found Quickley to be one of the most impressive players on the floor.

— Jericho Sims was strong tonight. The good defense and movement were key for New York’s switching on defense and 14 rebounds against Al Horford, Robert Williams, and the rest of the Boston frontline. The block on Robert Williams was great to send New York into overtime and while he didn’t do much on offense, the Celtics weren’t able to do much to attack that weakness.

The Knicks travel down the road to Brooklyn, New York to face the Brooklyn Nets (29-19) on Saturday, January 28th. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.



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