Celtics Recover After Late Knicks Rally, Win 119-114

By Brian Mahoney, AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 the New York Knicks 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.

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.

The Knicks led for much of the first half before Crowder made three straight 3-pointers as Boston surged into the lead en route to 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.

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.

The Knicks have lost their last four Christmas games. Their last victory in the holiday was in 2011 over the Celtics in what was the NBA season opener following a lockout.

TIP-INS

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.

CAR-MELO

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.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

There were kids everywhere running around in Celtics jerseys, as many family members made the trip since Boston hasn’t been home much during a road-heavy month. “We’ve only had, I think, two nights at home since Dec. 2. So it hasn’t been an easy month on a lot of our players and coaches, so we wanted to bring as many as we possibly could with us,” said coach Brad Stevens, adding that there’s always kids running around the team bus and plane. “It’s really important that all of our players’ and coaches’ families feel a part of it, because it is a time-consuming job and certainly on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve we wanted to make that something that we prioritized.”

UP NEXT

Celtics: Host Memphis on Tuesday. Thomas scored a career-high 44 points in Boston’s 112-109 overtime victory in Memphis on Tuesday.

Knicks: Visit Atlanta on Wednesday to start a three-game trip that takes them through the rest of 2016.

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