RJ Barrett hits the game winner in Knicks’ 108-105 win over Celtics
It was a miracle night at the Garden as the two original franchises met for the third time in the NBA’s 75th anniversary season. The night definitely belonged to Evan Fournier who scored a career-high 41 points against his former team but the dagger was nailed by RJ Barrett who made an off-the-glass contested three as time ran out to give the Knicks a 108-105 win over the Boston Celtics.
“Man, that was crazy — I didn’t even really see it because I fell. I didn’t see it go in but from everyone else’s reaction, I knew it did. That was cool.”
– RJ Barrett
The Knicks trailed by 20 or more throughout the most part of the game and never led until the final minutes. Boston took a 25 point lead late in the 2nd quarter as Dennis Schroder made a 25-foot three pointer to give the Celtics a 57-32 lead. The Knicks reply came on the closing minutes of the first half when they went on a 8-0 run to enter the locker rooms trailing 63-47.
The night was heading into a disaster for the Knicks, who continued to trail by almost 20 throughout the third quarter, and it would have been that way if it weren’t for Forunier’s heroics. The former Celtic kept his team in the game making three after three even when hopes were still low. Fournier played his best games as a Knick against the Celtics, scoring 32 in each of their previous match-ups.
“When you go through a season where there is a lot of inconsistency and you are trying to find a rhythm, you always start the day with a fresh attitude. Maybe there is a little bit of extra motivation, but it is not something that I do on purpose against the Celtics. But yes, three times in a row, so it is hard to say no, it is not a coincidence.”
– Evan Fournier
Fournier scored 12 of the Knicks’ first 14 points of the game and was a consistent presence on the court. He shot 10-14 from behind the arc and except for the second quarter, when he only made one, he made three threes in each of the quarters. The French guard tied the game for the first time late in the fourth (96-96), with 4:04 left to play. Two minutes later, he shot an impossible corner three that gave the Knicks their first lead of the night, 99-98.
Jayson Tatum answered with a three point play with 1:46 on the clock and Barrett assisted Mitchell Robinson for an alley-oop to make it 101-101. The key moment came one minute later when Schroder turned the ball over allowing the Knicks to go up 104-101 but it was Marcus Smart and Tatum who kept Boston alive and made it even with just 2.2 remaining.
The Knicks called for timeout and as Alec Burks inbounded the ball, Barrett took it with 1.5 on the clock and left everybody in the building holding their heads as the final shot went in.
It was a tough night for Barrett who scored his first points late in the second quarter. He went 4-15 from the field and finished with 13 points and 6 assists. Julius Randle was also scoreless in the first quarter but he made his presence felt later in the second and in the third when he scored 17 of his total 22 points. He was 8-20 from the field and added 8 rebounds.
Immanuel Quickley led the bench with 16 points and the rest of the players finished in single digits.
The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum who scored 36 points, shooting 12-21 from the field including 3-6 from behind the arc, also dishing out 9 assists. Dennis Schroder dropped 20 points and Jaylen Brown finished with 16.
The Knicks (19-20) shot 50% from long distance and were slightly better with the rebounding. The Celtics (18-21) however had a block machine in Robert Williams who had 7 blocks to go with his 9 rebounds.
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Up-next: The two teams will meet again in Boston on Saturday night from 7:30.