In a thrilling victory for the Celtics over New York on Wednesday night,
after their spectacular start, Kristaps Porzingis was surrounded by three Knicks locker room attendants. All the Knicks employees were smiling, even though Porzingis had just beaten the team that used to employ him.
Porzingis was told by one of them that he would soon be tying the knot, to which Porzingis pretended to be taken aback and extended his well wishes. It has been half a decade since Porzingis donned a Knicks jersey, yet the recollections remain vivid, and certain connections endure.
For instance, during a break in the first quarter, Porzingis dashed over to greet his former teammate, Carmelo Anthony, who was sporting sunglasses and watching the game courtside with his son, Kiyan.
Knicks fans certainly remember Porzingis too, and he returned to Madison Square Garden in 2019 after his trade. Nevertheless, circumstances have never quite mirrored the past. The squad he currently competes for stands as an enduring rival and perennial contender for championship glory.
So, when Porzingis was introduced, there were mixed emotions, and when he inadvertently elbowed Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein in the face, expletives were uttered. But Porzingis embraced it all, excited about the potential of his new team, just as many others are predicting.
“It was absolutely astounding,” he later remarked. “It was crazy. I won’t lie.”
At the start, both sons, with their strong play, gave the Celtics an early double-digit lead. When Boston was on the verge of a collapse in the fourth quarter, he made continuous efforts, scoring nine consecutive points to turn it into a satisfying victory.
In that stretch, a 28-foot dagger was included, launched with 1:29 remaining, breaking the tie at 101-101 and pushing Boston ahead for good.
Tatum said, “He brings us his size, shooting ability, ability to play off the dribble, and more agility.” “When they double me late, play the right way, find an open guy.
His ability to score points from almost anywhere on the court is an amazing asset. He really possesses extraordinary skill. We are privileged to have him as a member of our team.”
Tatum’s performance was also noteworthy. Subsequently, during the third quarter’s midpoint, they efficiently manufactured a 10-0 scoring spree within a mere 48 seconds, effectively leveling the score at 66.
However, Al Horford, who found himself on the bench for the first time during his tenure with the Celtics, came through with a crucial pair of 3-pointers to steady Boston. He expressed regret for his four turnovers later and pledged to do better in that department.
For All-Star forward Jaylen Brown, it was a less memorable night. Fresh off inking a groundbreaking five-year, $304 million contract extension, the most substantial deal in NBA annals, he made his debut appearance on the court.
Yet, he encountered difficulties with his long-range shooting, missing all four of his attempted 3-pointers, ultimately wrapping up the game with a modest 11-point performance. The Celtics found themselves on the verge of losing.
In a critical moment with the score deadlocked at 93 and only 4 minutes and 45 seconds remaining, Boston was in possession of the ball when Brown’s entry pass was picked off, setting the stage for Julius Randle’s pivotal 3-pointer.
After that, Brown turned the inbound pass over, fouling Quentin Grimes, who drilled a 3-pointer – a nearly 35-second sequence that handed the Knicks, who had never led in the first three quarters, their biggest lead at 99-93.
Coach Joe Mazzulla said about the late-game surge, “I felt like we were organized.” “We had the right spacing, the right action, the right reads.
We were able to go into a couple of different things, find the open guy. Clearly, his shooting range extends throughout the court. I must say, he’s exceptionally skilled. We’re fortunate to have him.”
Point guard Jyure Holiday, with 9 points and 4 rebounds, was solid in other facets of the game for the Celtics. However, he was impactful on defense, helping to keep the tall and lengthy Randle in check, with 5-of-22 shooting and 3 blocks.
Holiday said, “I think for me, one of my plans was to keep it away from the board, trying not to be dishonest about it.” “He got on me for that. But accepting the challenge is about becoming a better person.”
Porzingis controlled the early quarter from both ends. His initial field goal occurred on a wide-open pick-and-pop 3-pointer, a facet that promises to generate room for his fellow players as the season progresses.
He contributed a gritty alley-oop slam courtesy of a Derek White pass and skillfully eluded the defensive line for an additional dunk. As the quarter neared its conclusion, he rounded it off with two more 3-pointers, including a deep-range shot from beyond the key.
On the defensive end, his height troubled the Knicks, who struggled to see past their massive wing-span forward, either making them entirely disappear or worrying about what might come next.
Porzingis said, “I think the way the coaching staff is using me on defense is benefiting me, and I’m as effective as possible.”
The Knicks stayed competitive thanks to their work on the glass. They had built a 20-4 lead in second-chance points, and Hartenstein’s powerful putback had pulled New York within 51-46 during the break.
Subsequently, during the third quarter’s midpoint, they efficiently manufactured a 10-0 scoring spree within a mere 48 seconds, effectively leveling the score at 66.
Nonetheless, Al Horford, experiencing his inaugural bench appearance in his Celtics career, delivered a pivotal duo of 3-pointers to provide stability for Boston.