New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale talks about his team’s win over the Boston Celtics.
Chris Iseman, Staff Writer, @chrisiseman
BOSTON — The angry TD Garden boos had turned to thunderous cheers.
After the Knicks had built a 26-point lead in the first half, eliciting anger from every Celtics fan in the building, Boston mounted a late comeback to pull to within single digits.
This sort of scene had played out plenty of times this season, where the Knicks start off strong only to fade in the final minutes. Complete, 48-minute performances have been elusive.
The Knicks nearly gave another game away Wednesday night, but this time they did just enough to hang on to beat the struggling Celtics, 117-109.
“Finally,” coach David Fizdale said of the win, which snapped a six-game losing streak.
The Knicks got another big game from Trey Burke, who came up clutch in the final minutes and drained a three-pointer that locked up the win.
Boston had cut it to nine with two minutes remaining, and then kept chipping away.
Gordon Hayward drained a three with a minute left in the fourth to make it a four-point game, sending the crowd into a frenzy and prompting Fizdale to call a timeout.
After Jaylen Brown stripped Tim Hardaway Jr. with 40 seconds left, he broke up the court to go for a fast-break basket. Emmanuel Mudiay raced in and fouled him.
With chants of “Let’s go Celtics” raining down on the court, the officials reviewed the foul to determine if it was a technical. It stood as a personal foul, but Brown was called for a technical foul for his actions after the play.
Hardaway missed the free throw before Brown made one of two to cut Boston’s deficit to three.
But with 12 seconds left, Burke sealed the win for the Knicks, draining a long three over Jayson Tatum to make it a six-point game.
“Shot it confidently, a shot that I work on every day and it dropped,” Burke said.
Burke finished the game with 29 points and 11 assists.
“He willed this team to a win,” Hardaway said.
The Knicks were playing the second half of a back to back after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at the Garden.
Fizdale kept the same starting five, and that unit helped the Knicks get off to a huge first half.
They played more like they did consistently earlier in the season, grabbing rebounds, pushing the pace and getting out in transition.
Burke was stellar, scoring 18 points before halftime. Ten different Knicks, who had 25 assists, scored in the first half as they built a lead that swelled to 26.
While the Knicks cruised, the Celtics struggled.
Their offense, which has been sluggish all season, was terrible. Boston shot just 38.3 percent in the first half, but that was after the Celtics started to make shots late in the second quarter during a 16-6 run to cut their deficit to 16 going into the break.
Boston closed to within 10 with two minutes left in the third quarter, but the Knicks pushed their lead back to 15 on a jumper from Allonzo Trier at the buzzer.
A three from Kevin Knox, who had 11 points, early in the fourth made it a 20-point game, but not even that was safe.
The Knicks didn’t give away the lead completely, though.
“They settled down and play a lot more mature when they got punched,” Fizdale said. “And they didn’t try to win it all back, whatever we lost, in one play.”
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 22 points, while Marcus Morris had 21 off the bench.
All season, the Knicks have had trouble playing complete games. They’ve had games where they’ve gotten off to good starts, only to fade in the second half, sometimes as late as the game’s final minutes.
It had happened a lot recently.
Against the New Orleans Pelicans last week, the Knicks held an 11-point lead with seven minutes left. They lost the game by five points. In the following game against the Orlando Magic, the Knicks got off to a bad start before coming to within a point by halftime. But they let Orlando pull away in the fourth quarter.
The Tuesday night, the Knicks were within two points in the final minute of the fourth quarter, only to let some key plays slip away before losing, 118-114 to the Blazers.
Similar scenarios had happened before, including games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers.
Those potential wins slipped away.
The Knicks believed they were getting closer to overcoming that flaw. They did for at least one game on Wednesday.
“[Tuesday’s] game, we were in,” Burke said. “We’ve had troubles the last five, seven minutes closing out games. Tonight, we showed signs of being young. But like I said earlier, in the storm you learn a lot about yourself. You gotta figure out ways to get out of it. Tonight, we made just enough plays to pull it out. It was a big win for us.”
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