NEW YORK — The Boston Celtics demolished the New York Knicks, 114-73, behind a game-high 23 points from shooting guard Jordan Crawford at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
The Atlantic Division-leading Celtics (10-12) ran wire-to-wire for the win over a Knicks squad (5-14) that was going for its first three-game winning streak of the season. Instead, Boston picked up a third victory in a row to extend its divisional lead in a game the Knicks trailed by many as 27 points in the first half, including a 23-3 deficit in the first quarter.
The blowout was the fourth-worst home loss ever for the Knicks, as the Celtics poured it on early and never stepped off the accelerator, extending their 27-point halftime lead to as many as 45 points.
Brad Stevens, the Celtics’ first-year coach, said he was impressed with his team’s effort and learned a lot today.
“I’ve already learned in this league that you can be on the good end or the bad end (and) we were lucky today to be on the good end. Everything we did will get over-exaggerated and everything they did will get over-exaggerated,” Stevens said, adding the team’s second-half focus was excellent. “I think the biggest thing today was coming out after halftime and keeping it going. That’s hard to do. But our guys came out and were in a (defensive) stance and they were communicating.”
The Knicks continued their tradition of slumbering through matinee games. The Celtics started hot, shooting an impressive 55 percent from the field, including 50 percent from 3-point range (7 of 14) in the first half, and stayed that way for the game, finishing at 53.5 percent from the field (56 percent in 3s).
Crawford said it’s thrilling to see this young Celtics’ squad mature as the season unfolds, adding he wasn’t shocked to see his team come out so aggressively.
“People know each other better and we take it upon ourselves to get others involved,” Crawford said, pinpointing Brandon Bass’s inspired all-around game. “Brandon came out focused and really challenged himself guarding Carmelo (Anthony).”
Anthony was certainly stymied by the physical and athletic Bass, as he registered 19 points on just 5-of-15 shooting.
Anthony offered no excuses afterward.
“What Boston came in here and did was an embarrassment. To lose like that on our home court, I think everyone should be (ticked) off right now,” Anthony said, baffled at how badly the Knicks played after their recent two-game effort. “For whatever reason, I don’t know what it is and I don’t even want to try and figure it out, but we have to figure it out and move on to Cleveland.”
About the only saving grace for the Knicks was the ascending play of forward Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored a season-high 17 points. Stoudemire’s inspired effort earned him the second-half start in place of struggling rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. The rookie wasn’t the only problem — New York’s starting unit shot 3-of-23 (13 percent) in the first half.
Stoudemire had a team-high 11 points in 11 minutes in the first half, continuing a resurgence as he sheds the rust accumulated following offseason knee procedure. The only other Knicks besides Stoudemire and Anthony to reach double-digit scoring was forward Metta World Peace, with 12 points off the bench.
Boston received balanced scoring that included forward Jared Sullinger’s 21 points, 16 points apiece from forwards Brandon Bass and Jeff Green and 13 points by point guard Avery Bradley.
Green, who also added six rebounds and three assists, reasoned that when Boston plays this hard and executes this well, they could actually do some damage — and have fun in doing so.
“We’re making shots, being aggressive and executing out there. We forced them to play on their heels and didn’t allow easy looks,” Green said. “We enjoyed it for sure and did everything we needed to do. … It is fun when you execute and get a win like this.”