Celtics finish strong to beat Knicks

Sixers stat of the week Making sense of the starting lineup’s success — what’s real and what’s noise

Sixers stat of the week Making sense of the starting lineup’s success — what’s real and what’s noise

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart left the team's 113-104 win against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden early on Sunday afternoon after taking a shot to the abdomen - a potentially brutal injury for the 25-year-old after he tore his left oblique in April.

The Celtics have won three of four. Dennis Smith Jr. scored 17 and RJ Barrett had 16 for NY, which blew a 16-point lead to the 76ers on Friday and has lost six straight.

In the loss to Boston, the Knicks couldn't seem to handle Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who dropped 30 and 28 points, respectively. Kemba Walker had 15 points and 10 assists, Enes Kanter contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Brad Wanamaker also scored 11 points for Boston. This year's challenge is to develop RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier in the right way. Barrett and Randle combined to open the third quarter on a 6-0 run for the Knicks, who scored 15 of the half's first 21 points to extend their lead to nine with 6:38 remaining in the period. Semi Ojeleye's triple tied the score at 95-95, Brown continued with a steal and a layup, Tatum hit a free kick, and Walker and Tatum scored 3 consecutive points to crown the race.

Brown's bucket with 1:39 left gave Boston its biggest lead of the game, 110-99.

New York's next game will take place on Monday night when they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. Tip-off will occur at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Celtics defeated the Knicks 104-102 in their last matchup on November 1.

Along with the worse record, the Knicks, unlike last season, have let the veterans take control of the rotation.

The Knicks will look to avenge that loss, and halt their current five-game skid, on Sunday as they host the Celtics.

Smart has averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 assists so far this season in Boston, his sixth in the league. Clearly, that's not happening now, given where Knox and Trier stand, but if the Knicks walk out of this rigorous part of their schedule without a win, they could be 4-20 by December 11, before a battle of the worst records with Golden State.

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