No matter what they do for the first 36 minutes, the Celtics just can’t seem to get things right in the fourth quarter. That trend continued Thursday night, in a 108-105 loss to the New York Knicks.
The Celtics got out to a fast start, and led by as many as 25 points in the first half. Coming into the game, Boston was 9-0 this season when leading by 20-plus points at any point in the game, but that streak wouldn’t last. The C’s were outscored by 19 in the second half, and by 10 in the fourth quarter.
With eight points out of the gate from Jaylen Brown, the Celtics jumped right out to a 12-3 lead forcing a New York timeout. The Knicks settled down a little bit, but the Celtics took a 25-18 lead into the second quarter.
Jayson Tatum knocked down back-to-back threes as part of a 9-0 Celtics run, which quickly put the C’s back up by double digits in the second quarter. After another early Knicks timeout the Celtics continued to roll, and reached their 10th 20-plus point lead of the year before halftime. The Knicks were able to close the quarter on an 8-0 run thanks to a few fast break scores, but the Celtics led 63-47 heading into the locker room.
The Knicks then scored the first six points of the third quarter, turning that 8-0 run into a 14-0 run and getting back within 10 points. The Celtics responded with an 8-0 run of their own, and eventually got their lead back to 20.
However, the Knicks had another run in them – a 14-0 run late in the quarter that once again got the game back to single digits. New York outscored Boston by nine in the quarter, making the score 84-77 to start the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, former Celtic Evan Fournier started to take over. He reached 10 points in the frame with four minutes to go, hitting a long jumper to complete the Knicks’ comeback and tie the game at 96.
Two possessions later, Fournier struck again. He hit an off-balance three from the corner on an inbound play, giving the Knicks their first lead of the night.
Jayson Tatum picked up a three point play at the other end of the floor, putting the Celtics back up 101-99. The Knicks then went on a 5-0 run, with the Celtics missing a three and turning the ball over in that span. With 18.8 seconds to go, Marcus Smart drove to the basket and drew a foul. He hit both shots to put the Celtics down one.
Julius Randle missed a free throw on the other end, keeping it a two-point game. Jayson Tatum made him pay, hitting a step-back from the elbow to tie the game at 105.
That wouldn’t end up mattering though. With 1.5 seconds to get a shot up, R.J. Barrett hit a bank shot three at the buzzer, clinching the win for the Knicks.
Tatum led the Celtics with 36 points, and was an assist shy of a double-double. Dennis Schroder followed him with 20 points. Boston got an impressive defensive effort from Robert Williams, who finished with nine rebounds and a season-high seven blocks.
For the Knicks, Fournier did most of the damage. He finished with a career-high 41 points, with 13 points coming in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 18-21 on the season. They’ve now lost five of their last seven games.
The Celtics will have a chance to get revenge for this one right away – they face the Knicks on Saturday at TD Garden in the second half of a home-and-home set. That game tips off at 7:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 105.7 WROR and the Celtics Radio Network.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.