Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 38 points, playing 55 minutes in place of injured starter Jalen Brunson, and the New York Knicks outlasted the Boston Celtics 131-129 in two overtimes Sunday night for their season-high ninth straight victory.
Playing without Brunson, who is nursing a sore left foot, there were many who didn’t give the Knicks a chance. After all, Brunson was the Eastern Conference’s player of the month for February, averaging 27.3 points and six assists a game while shooting 52.9% from the field.
Yet, Quickley was more than ready to rise to the occasion. The former Kentucky Wildcat, who for some reason still has just the 4th-highest odds for Sixth Man of the Year, was electric on Sunday night adding eight rebounds and seven assists to his 38 points.
Quickley also stepped up late, scoring seven points in the second overtime, including the first five points of the period on a 3-pointer and two driving baskets, skipping in front of Boston’s bench celebrating after the last basket made it 128-123.
Coming off an embarrassing home loss in their last game when they blew a 28-point lead against Brooklyn, the Celtics had opened a 14-point edge midway into the third quarter. The Knicks closed the quarter with a 9-0 surge and pushed their advantage to 100-89 on Obi Toppin’s driving layup early in the final quarter.
Julius Randle added 31 points and nine rebounds, and RJ Barrett finished with 29 points and 11 boards for the Knicks, who held on when Boston’s Al Horford front-rimmed a 3-pointer from the right corner just before the final buzzer.
Horford had nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner with 29.2 seconds left to push Boston ahead 121-119 in the first OT after Randle’s two free throws had moved the Knicks in front.
Randle played the hero earlier in the week when he scored 43 points in a victory at Miami on Friday that included an off-balance, game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds. His free throws tonight were also clutch in helping New York secure the victory.
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 40 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Jaylen Brown scored 29 points had made a 3-point play with 12.9 seconds left sent it to overtime. Horford finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as Boston dropped its second straight game to New York and its third on the season.
The Celtics were also missing a couple of key players in starting center Robert Williams III (left hamstring tightness) and reserve guard Malcolm Brogdon (right ankle soreness).
With these two teams not meeting again this year, the Knicks have won the season series 3-1, asserting their legitimacy as an NBA title contender.
They will look to extend their winning streak to double digits when they head home to host the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.
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