By The Sports Xchange

NEW YORK — Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points and distributed eight assists, but it was the contribution of Boston’s bench that was the difference in the Celtics’ 97-89 win over the New York Knicks Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Reserve center Tyler Zeller posted a season-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, backup shooting guard Evan Turner contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds and center Kelly Olynyk added 13 points. The Boston (28-22) bench outscored New York’s reserves 47-27.

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Guard Arron Afflalo led the Knicks (23-28) with 18 points, center Robin Lopez added 17 points and 13 rebounds and forward Carmelo Anthony recorded 16 points and 14 rebounds for his third straight double-double and 14th of the season.

The Knicks climbed to 81-77 thanks to a 7-0 burst, but Turner and Zeller combined for 10 of Boston’s next 12 points to help Boston move its lead to 93-83 with 3:22 to play.

The score was tied on four occasions late in the third before Boston outscored the Knicks 6-2 to close the quarter with a 70-65 advantage. New York committed five turnovers in the quarter and was just 5-of-19. Anthony was 2-of-7.

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Sullinger started a 12-2 Celtics run with a layup that gave Boston a 59-53 lead with 7:54 to play in the third. Crowder was responsible for five of those points.

New York held a 47-45 halftime lead behind 13 points from Afflalo.

The Celtics erased a 22-21 Knicks lead by going on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter.

Afflalo scored seven of the Knicks points in a 9-0 run to start the game, then the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to tie it.

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NOTES: Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January. It was the third straight month he claimed the award. Porzingis ranked fourth among all first-year players in scoring (15.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.2 rpg) in January. Porzingis posted four point-rebound double-doubles and scored at least 12 points in 13 straight games from Jan. 3-26. … Knicks G Jose Calderon missed his fourth straight game with a sore groin. … Jae Crowder started at forward for Boston despite a bruised shin he suffered Sunday against Orlando.