Celtics recover after late Knicks rally to win Christmas matchup
Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points, Marcus Smart made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 47 seconds left after Boston blew a late lead, and the Celtics beat New York 119-114 on Sunday.
The Knicks wiped out a late nine-point deficit with an out-of-nowhere 11-2 run in a little more than a minute, but Smart answered with his shot and Avery Bradley and Al Horford made big defensive plays afterward.
"We did a good job of just being calm and gutting out the win," Thomas said.
Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk each had 16 points for the Celtics, who won for the fifth time in six games.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and Derrick Rose had 25 for the Knicks, who fell to 22-29 in their NBA-record 51 Christmas appearances.
"You don't want to lose at all but to lose today, it was a tough loss," Anthony said.
Crowder made three straight 3-pointers in the second quarter as Boston took a 56-48 halftime advantage. The Celtics rarely built the lead much bigger in the second half, but also never let the Knicks make much of a dent in it, always coming up with some stops and points whenever it got within a couple of possessions.
Suddenly Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis scored all the points in the run that tied it at 112 on Anthony's layup with 1:06 to play, but Boston wasn't rattled.
"They had the crowd behind them on a very special day and this team just did a really good job of making sure when they punched us we punched right back," said Smart, whose mouth was bloodied earlier when Rose crashed into him on a drive to the basket.
The Celtics worked it around to Smart for his 3, and Bradley forced Anthony to turn it over on New York's next possession. Thomas hit a free throw to make it a four-point game and it stayed that way when Horford blocked Porzingis' shot.
"I thought our guys really battled and the response was great when they did tie it up," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The Knicks have lost their last four Christmas games. Their last victory on the holiday was in 2011 over the Celtics in what was the NBA season opener following a lockout.
"We just couldn't finish it at the end, but that's not only the end part, it's throughout the whole game that we can be better," Porzingis said.
Celtics: Boston beat New York for the fourth straight time. ... Horford and Smart each scored 15 points.
Knicks: Anthony shot 9 for 24 and felt short of the 34.3 points he was averaging on Christmas, which was tops among active players. He did pass Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor to move into 28th place on the NBA career scoring list with 23,156 points. Baylor had 23,149. ... Porzingis finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Anthony met with the family of Jarell Lara, a 17-year-old from New York who suffers from a rare form of cancer called Langerhan's Cell Histiocytosis. Anthony partnered with the Garden of Dreams on behalf of the Carmelo Anthony Foundation to present the family of four with a 2017 Kia Sorento, as the family shared one old car that frequently broke down and didn't have working back doors.
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