The Knicks snapped a five-game losing streak in emphatic, surprising fashion, taking down one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics, 105-75 on Sunday afternoon in Boston.
This was the Knicks’ second-largest victory ever against the Celtics.
Julius Randle led the way as usual with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but this was one of the best all-around efforts from the franchise in quite some time.
RJ Barrett added 19 points with 11 rebounds to the effort, but more importantly, he had an efficient outing. The second-year guard that had been muddling through shooting woes all season went 5-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range.
He was able to break that funk thanks to the support of his head coach, Tom Thibodeau, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday on Sunday.
“He’s always believing in me, I think that’s the biggest part,” Barrett told MSG Networks after the game. “He’s teaching me so many nuances of the game… I feel like I have great teammates and a great coaching staff that believes in me.”
Knicks domination — especially on the defensive end — spoiled the season debut of Celtics star point guard Kemba Walker, who received a stem-cell injection in his knee back in October.
He was held to just nine points in 20 minutes of play, which included a tough hit to the ribs in the third quarter that saw him leave the game.
That third quarter saw the Knicks outscore the Celtics 27-15 while holding the hosts to fewer than 20 points in three of the four quarters.
Knicks center Mitchell Robinson also appeared to pick up an injury after a pair of heavy falls during the first half. While he spent most of the afternoon limping, he was still a force down low with eight points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
The Celtics were held to just 29.8% shooting from the field and 7-of-46 from three-point range as the offense struggled mightily without star Jayson Tatum and key bench piece in Rob Williams, both of whom were sidelined Sunday due to COVID health-and-safety protocols.
“We came out with energy and aggression from the tip,” Barrett said. “We just played hard and played well together, played great defensively, and I think that’s what really won us this game.”
All the while, rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley continued to secure his spot as the clear-cut No. 1 point guard option — posting 17 points with eight assists in 21 minutes of play.
Fellow rookie Obi Toppin was just as effective, posting 12 points in 12 minutes that included a pair of three-pointers.
The Knicks’ largest victories this season have come against the two best teams in the Eastern Conference — the other in the first week of the season against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“This one felt really good to get back on the right track,” Barrett said