Erica Denhoff/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BOSTON — Somehow, the best thing that happened to the New York Knicks in going up against team undoubtedly the best in the league is that their opponent, who had very little to play for, showed up to the game at full strength and wanting to win — something it had done 62 times already prior to tonight. Throughout large stretches of the game and most certainly by the end of the night, New York served notice on a national television audience that there was more than one championship contender on the floor of TD Garden on Thursday.

Jalen Brunson scored 39 points in just three quarters to lead the Knicks to a 118-108 victory of the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics in a game that New York led by as many as 31 points in the third quarter. The win moves New York’s magic number to clinch home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to one, and the Knicks still have an opportunity to move into the No. 2 position in the Eastern Conference, right behind Boston, with wins in their final two games at home and if Milwaukee loses its final two games, both on the road and against playoff-bound teams in Oklahoma City and Orlando.

“We made shots and made the right plays,” Brunson said. “Obviously, we know they’re the top dog in the East. Whenever you play against them, it’s always a good measuring stick to see where you’re at. We played pretty well, but we know what they’re capable of doing. We just had their number tonight.”

It was Brunson who was making the majority of the shots for the Knicks, as he went 15-of-23 from the floor, with six of his made field goals from beyond the arc. New York broke open a close game late in the second quarter with a 17-0 run, a large chunk of a longer 22-3 run to end the first half and give the Knicks a 68-48 lead at the intermission.

Building on scoring 12 points in the second quarter, Brunson scored a whopping 21 points in the third as the Knicks put the game to bed early. The MVP candidate went 8-of-10 from the field in the third stanza, including making four of his six three-point attempts. By the time the fourth quarter began, Brunson, as well as all of the Celtics’ starters, were on the bench and did not return.

New York was buoyed by the 52-36 rebounding advantage it had on the Celtics, who have now lost two straight as they head into their final two games of the season on Friday and Sunday.

“It stings to have this loss, but maybe we need this before heading into the postseason with a killer mentality,” said Celtics center and former Knick Kristaps Porzingis, who had 14 points. “It’s not who we are. This is not the team our fans love. That wasn’t on display. You best believe we’ll show up when we have to. We know what the goal is and make no mistake about it.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s game, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Erica Denhoff. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 47 pictures in total.

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Tags : Boston CelticsNational Basketball AssociationNew York Knicks

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