NEW YORK (AP) — Jayson Tatum was gone a few minutes before the Boston Celtics relinquished the top spot in the NBA, thrown out of a game for the first time in his career.
The referees frustrated the All-Star forward. New York’s defense caused the frustration for the rest of the Celtics.
“It wasn’t our best night shooting the ball,” forward Al Horford said. “They were the better team tonight.”
Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley each scored 23 points, and the surging Knicks knocked Boston out of the top spot in the overall NBA standings with their sixth straight victory, 109-94 on Monday night.
Tatum struggled through a 6-for-18 shooting performance and was ejected in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul. He finished with 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Jalen Brunson added 17 points for the Knicks (36-27), who inched ahead of Brooklyn into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re in a good place but with a lot of work to do,” Brunson said.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 for the Celtics (44-18), who were missing All-Star Jaylen Brown due to personal reasons. They slipped percentage points behind Milwaukee (43-17), which has won 14 straight games and now owns the NBA’s best record.
Marcus Smart added 19 points but Boston missed 20 of its first 22 attempts from 3-point range and had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Tatum beat the 76ers on Saturday in Philadelphia with a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left for a 110-107 victory, but couldn’t get his outside shot going Monday. He missed his first six 3-point tries and finished 1 for 9 behind the arc.
Even when he got inside, things didn’t work out. Mitchell Robinson stuffed his dunk attempt in the first half, and Tatum’s driving dunk in the third quarter was followed by his first technical foul for his reaction afterward, believing he was fouled.
He picked up his second and was thrown out moments after his final 3-point miss in the fourth, screaming and gesturing at halfcourt believing he was fouled.
Tatum said he didn’t know the difference between normally keeping his temper in check but going too far Monday.
“But all the great players get thrown out a few times in their career, so it’s good for my rep,” he said.
New York took control in the second quarter and never gave it up. The margin was in double digits for most of the second half, with the Celtics unable to shoot well enough to sustain any good stretch.
Randle scored 12 points in the first quarter and Boston went 1 for 12 behind the arc as New York took a 27-15 lead.
Brunson’s three-point play capped an 8-0 run and gave the Knicks a 47-27 lead midway through the second quarter. The Celtics rallied with 12 in a row to get within 49-41, but RJ Barrett steadied the Knicks with a 3-pointer followed by a three-point play, and the lead was back up to 60-46 at the break.
“Obviously their record tells you how good they are and they can make up ground very quickly because of the way they shoot the 3,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Their shot profile is terrific, so no lead feels safe.”
But it was Monday. The Celtics finished 9 for 42 from 3 and never made a significant run after halftime.
The teams meet again Sunday in Boston.
Celtics: Coach Joe Mazzulla said Brown is expected back Wednesday against Cleveland. … Derrick White started for Brown and scored 13 points but missed all five 3-point attempts.
Knicks: Need one victory to match their total from last season after finishing 37-45. … Mitchell Robinson had 10 points, making all five shots, and 13 rebounds.