Knicks Use GRIT to Beat Celtics in Boston in OT, 120-117

Jalen Brunson blocked Malcolm Brogdon‘s 3-pt attempt at the buzzer in OT to give NY a Gritty, 120-117 victory over the Celtics in Boston.

The block came after a Jayson Tatum 3-pt miss with 4 seconds left, the long rebound bouncing out to Al Horford who fed Brogdon.

RJ Barrett had just put NY up by 3 by hitting 2 CLUTCH free throws, and before that, hit a HUGE 3-pointer from the right corner to put NY up 118-117. In between, Jaylen Brown missed 2 free throws that would have tied the game and/or put Boston ahead.

Another PHEWWWWWWW ending for the Knicks, who were led all evening by the All Star play of Julius Randle (37 pts, 9 rebounds) and Brunson (29 pts, 7 assists).

“We’ve been in these games before — there’s a sense of being comfortable in those positions and being able to execute at the end,” said Julius Randle afterwards.

NY improves to 27-23; Boston falls to 35-15, still the best record in the NBA.

1. Boston Jumped Ahead by 15 Points

The game was broadcast nationally on TNT, and before the game the Knicks got their usual dose of disrespect from the TNT analysis crew of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith. O’Neal mispronounced Julius Randle‘s name — calling him Julius Randolph.

The game was also played in the run-up time to the All Star game — with the starting team just announced, and the reserves about to be picked.

With Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson both in contention for spots on the team — it was an important game for them to make a statement.

But Boston — with the best record in the NBA at 35-14 coming in — came out strong and took a 15-point lead with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Malcolm BrogdonΒ  were hitting 3’s and scoring at will.

2. Knicks Dominated Last 3 Quarters

But the Knicks were just getting started. Their defense kicked in and Julius Randle started Cooking.

Randle started molesting the Boston front line with drives and dunks, and stepping out and hitting 3’s. He put on an All Star Show.

An RJ Barrett Dunk ended the quarter with the Knicks down 8, and the second team with Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin cut into the lead more at the start of the 2nd.

A Quentin Grimes 3 put the Knicks ahead for the first time in the game, midway through the 2nd quarter, and a highlight-reel Grimes DUNK late in the quarter gave NY a 3-pt lead and had us tweeting “Grimes is ‘HIM’!” — referring to the game vs Toronto when Scottie Barnes got into a verbal tete-a-tete with Grimes, telling him “You’re not Him.”

Boston battled back to take a 2-pt lead at the half but NY was back at it in the 3rd, ending the period up by 5 on the torrid scoring of Randle.

NY continued to apply the pressure in the 4th — when Obi Toppin hit a step-back 3 from the corner with 8:40 left, NY had an 11-point lead. Miles McBride free throws gave NY a 13-pt lead with 8 minutes left.

On TV, Reggie Miller noted that NY had been the better team all night after the first few minutes.

3. Tatum Went Nuts at End of 4th to Tie It

But then Jayson Tatum went on a mission to bring the Celtics back in it — and he did — scoring on drive after drive to the hole, or getting fouled. Jaylen Brown helped.

The Knicks could have put it away had they hit more shots — Quentin Grimes missed two open 3’s — one with 4 minutes left and NY up 10, and one with 27 seconds left and a tie game.

4. Jericho’s Block Sends It to OT

Regulation ended with Jayson Tatum missing a jumper with 3 seconds left — the Knicks defense all over him — but Robert Williams III grabbing an offensive rebound, and Jericho Sims coming up with a HUGE Game-saving block.

5. Boston Pulled Ahead in OT

The Celtics pulled ahead by 5 points in OT and the Knicks were vexed when Brunson was fouled on a drive and the refs called it not in the act of shooting even though everyone especially Reggie Miller on TV said he should be getting free throws.

6. Randle, Barrett & Brunson Clutch for the Win

But Randle hit a big 3 to put NY down by 2, and RJ Barrett hit the Huge 3 with 29 seconds left to put NY up 118-117 — the game winner.

Then came the Jaylen Brown missed free throws, and RJ Barrett‘s CLUTCH free throws to make it 120-117.

And finally came Brunson’s block at the buzzer of Brogdan’s shot for the win.

7. Other Knicks

Miles McBride played disruptive defense and Isaiah Hartenstein did a great job in the paint, with defense, rebounds, and some quarterback passes to outlets creating fast breaks; although one was a tad overzealous and intercepted by Boston to the chagrin of coach Tom Thibodeau on the sidelines.

Jericho Sims allowed some more offensive rebounds early in the game, as he had done against Cleveland, but then buckled down and ended up ripping down 14 rebounds (4 offensive; 10 defensive) in 36 minutes. At one point Sims SKIED for an offensive rebound and slam back drawing awe from Reggie Miller.

The Boxscore

https://www.espn.com/nba/boxscore/_/gameId/401468885

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