NBA-leading Celtics cruise to 8th straight win
NBA

NBA-leading Celtics cruise to 8th straight win

/ 03:22 PM February 25, 2024

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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown NBA

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) looks to shoot over New York Knicks forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

NEW YORK — Jaylen Brown scored 30 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 22 and the NBA-leading Boston Celtics easily handled the New York Knicks 116-102 in the NBA on Saturday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

Brown shot 13-for-24 from the field and had eight rebounds for the Celtics, who improved to 45-12 and sit atop the Eastern Conference with an eight-game lead over Cleveland.

The All-Star forward downplayed the big advantage in the standings with less than two months left before the start of the postseason.

READ: NBA: Celtics rout Bulls for season-high 7th straight win

“When it comes down to the playoffs, none of that stuff really matters,” Brown said. “I feel like it’s going to be about matchups, it’s going to be about playing hard. Obviously, home court (advantage) matters. So, that is key. You get into the thick of it, you’ve got to win basketball games.”

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Jayson Tatum had 19 points with six assists and six rebounds and Derrick White added 13 for Boston, who have won 10 of their last 11.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzula gushed over the performance of Tatum, who has at least five assists in seven of his last nine games and six rebounds in 16 of 17 games.

“I thought today was a beautiful display of basketball from Jayson,” Mazzula said. “It won’t go into the most valuable category, but his ability to control the game with his pick-and-roll pace, his pick-and-roll passing, his defense. He put himself on (Jalen) Brunson, welcoming 2-on-1s and creating for others was great. My hats off to him for knowing that’s a way for us to win.”

READ: NBA: Jayson Tatum, Celtics defeat Nets for 5th straight win

Brunson had 34 points on 12-for-25 shooting from the field and 4-for-9 from 3-point range and Josh Hart had 16 for the Knicks, who were swept by Boston in their four-game season series.

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Boston opened the second half with a 4-point lead before the All-Star tandem of Brown and Tatum along with Porzingis, a 2015 first-round draft pick of the Knicks, sparked a 30-11 spurt to put the game out of reach.

After Isaiah Hartenstein hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit for New York to 67-61, Porzingis and Tatum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 73-66. That forced the Knicks to call timeout with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

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New York then turned the ball over on the following possession and Brown answered with a 3 before Brunson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws that made it 76-69.

The Knicks and Celtics traded baskets before Porzingis started a 10-0 run with a 3 from the top of the key and Brown closed it with a layup to extend the lead 88-71 with 3:53 remaining in the quarter.

Hart and Brunson followed with consecutive baskets, but Boston responded with a 9-0 run capped by Tatum’s 3 that made it 97-77 with 1:30 left in the quarter and drew loud “Let’s Go Celtics!” chants from the visiting fans before boos rained down from the Knicks faithful.

“I prefer any kind of emotion over no emotion,” said Porzingis, who was booed by Knicks fans the night he was selected in the NBA Draft and was jeered when his name was called during the lineup introduction.

“If it’s cheers or boos, I want them,” he said. “Tonight was no different. Big game, (national) TV game, fans were into it and we just took care of business.”

The Knicks charged back with a 13-2 run bridging the end of the third quarter and the start of fourth quarter, cutting the deficit 99-90 on Bojan Bogdanovic’s jumper with 9:17 to play in the period.

But the Celtics took advantage of three Knicks turnovers and six missed shots to go on a 10-0 run to extend the lead 109-90 with 4:43 left in regulation.

Brown had 10 points in the first quarter to help the Celtics to a 30-36 lead at the end of the opening period. He added 10 more in the second period to pace Boston to a 62-58 advantage at halftime. The Celtics shot 66.7% from the field and 42.9 percent beyond the 3-point line in the first half.

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NEXT SCHEDULE

Celtics: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Knicks: Host the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

TAGS: Boston Celtics, NBA

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