KNICKS 103 CELTICS 102 | DUNKIN DONUTS CENTER
How it happened:
It shouldn't have been this close -- it wasn't this close -- but the Knicks and Celtics really deserve credit for making the most of a game that doesn't count in the standings. No one will remember the final score, but the dramatic swings by both teams made for a wildly entertaining product as it went down to the wire. After squandering a 22-point 4th quarter lead, the Knicks hung tough in the game's final moments, ultimately prevailing on Tim Hardaway Jr's game-winning jumper with just under 10 seconds to go.
It was one of those awesome sports moments -- his father in the crowd to watch his son's debut, just sitting and giggling as his Hardaway Jr. seized the moment.
New York turned in a really strong showing in its first preseason game. The starting five of Felton-Prigioni-Anthony-Bargnani-Chandler looked good together, sharing the ball and outplaying Boston's starters handily when they were on the court together. The three wings off the bench (Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace and Hardaway) were even better, blowing the game open in the second half behind a barrage of threes.
For the most part, the Knicks played defense with good effort, purpose and execution. They gave up a few good looks early on -- to be expected for a starting unit in its first game together -- and obviously struggled down the stretch, but neither are cause for concern in the big picture. Instead, we can take away positive signs from the consistent pressure they applied in the middle quarters.
Boston's run came in the 4th quarter as the Knicks gave some playing time to guys battling for roster spots. The star of the late run was guard Chris Babb, who poured in 12 points in eight minutes and finished with a +20 rating on the night.
Knick of the Night:
It's not easy to choose one on a night where 13 Knicks got into the scorer's book, including five in double figures, but Iman Shumpert gets the nod. Left out of the starting lineup, Shump rose to the occasion by shooting 7-for-7 from the floor in his 25 minutes -- tied with Hardaway for team high. He finished with three 3-pointers and 18 points total, looking very comfortable as a faciliatator when asked to run the second unit. It was a dominating performance.
Shumpert, Hardaway and World Peace combined to shoot 18-for-26 (69%) from downtown. They simply blitzed the Celtics when they were on the floor together, applying pressure and getting into the passing lanes and then converting turnovers into quick points.
The Knicks head to Toronto to face Andrea Bargnani's old teammates with the Raptors on Friday night. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. on MSG.