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Amid rumors of Carmelo Anthony’s future in New York, the Knicks played their most efficient and focused game of the year in outrebounding and locking down the Celtics in crunch time to take an impressive 117-106 win in Boston.
If I told you coming in that the Celtics would commit just 3 turnovers and Isaiah Thomas have 39 points, I’m sure you’d pencil in a Boston win. But those stats weren’t enough to overcome a massive 55 points from New York’s bench and a 57-33 rebounding edge.
HERNANGOMEZ: Our rook was a man on fire tonight. He matched his career high with 17 points and grabbed 11 boards in 20 minutes. He thoroughly outplayed Al Horford (5 points, 2-14), most noticeably on a fake-out dunk for a three-point play. Steel sharpens steel, so I’m expecting Kyle O’Quinn, who only played 10 minutes due to Willy’s dominance, to return the favor tomorrow night.
3-WAY BENCH GUARD ATTACK: Coach Hornacek may be onto something having Courtney Lee come off the bench. He was close to a triple-double with 9 points, 8 boards and 7 assists (career high). His most timely hoop of the night came when Horford sagged off him in transition and nailed a fourth-quarter trey that extended the Knicks lead to 103-96.
Justin Holiday put in work as well. He had a team-best +23 and had his own timely three when the Celtics had cut it to one in the fourth-quarter. After that shot, the Boston would get no closer. He finished with 13 points and 5 boards.
And the final weapon in the trio was Brandon Jennings. 11 points, 5 assists and just one turnover. He played a strong role and penetrating and finding Hernangomez, who scored 10 points in the second quarter to put the Knicks up for good.
THE UNSUNG: In my opinion, Mindaugas Kuzmiskas has proven to be a more versatile and valuable player to this team than Lance Thomas. Kuz shot 50% from the field, scored 17 points and grabbed 6 boards. While Thomas is a capable three-point shooter, he’s awful off the dribble and can’t finish, two things the rookie can do effectively to space the floor.
Mason Plumlee got his first start in Joakim Noah’s absence. His numbers won’t jump out at you (5 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks), but the man had a solid game. He boxed out, altered shots (especially on Thomas in the fourth) and set strong screens.
ROSE TAKES OVER: With Melo having an erratic shooting night (13 points, 5/14) and no Porzingis, it was on Derrick Rose to carry the load. You can tell playing Thomas motivated him, but Rose played under control and picked his spots. His mid-range jumper was unstoppable. And he got whatever he wanted on drives.
Making Thomas work on defense slowed him down in the fourth and Rose outscored him 12-8 in the quarter. Our PG finished with 30 points, equaling his season-high as a Knick, and pulled down 10 boards to go with 5 assists.
The Knicks are right back in action tomorrow night against the Wizards.