Birthday boy Jaylen Brown leads Celtics to 110-89 win over Knicks


BOSTON – Jaylen Brown turned 21 years old on Tuesday and it seemed everyone was in the mood to give him gifts – even the New York Knicks.

Brown got open look after open look against the Knicks’ porous defense, and the birthday boy made them pay with a game-high 23 points in Boston’s 110-89 victory.

The 23 points were a season-high for the second-year guard/forward who came into the game second on the team in scoring (17.3 points) to Kyrie Irving (20.0 points per game).


As well as Brown played, he wasn’t the only Celtics player New York had problems with defending.

Jayson Tatum led a second unit in the second quarter that really put the Knicks on their heels, scoring nine of his 22 points in the quarter as Boston pulled ahead by as many as 21 points – the margin of their lead at the half (54-33). Tatum finished with a career-high 22 points.

While his numbers weren’t huge, there was no mistaking the impact Al Horford had on the game. He spent most of his time on the floor defending Kristaps Porzingis who came into the game having scored at least 30 points in each of New York’s first two games which had not been done by a New York Knick since Patrick Ewing at the start of the 1993-1994 season.

But Porzingis never got into any kind of rhythm with Horford contesting most of his shots, or simply pushing him away from the spots he wanted to get to.

Horford also managed his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go with five assists.

The defense played by Horford and Aron Baynes (he got the start with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle sprain for the second straight game) added up to a dismal first half for Porzingis who had two points while missing seven of his eight shot attempts. He would finish with 12 points despite missing 11 of his 14 shots from the field.

Boston managed to continue to keep a comfortable cushion between itself and the Knicks all game game. For New York (0-3), the loss marked the team's worst start since they opened the 2009-2010 season with three straight defeats in what was a Knicks team that won just 29 games.

The Celtics’ control of the game continued in the second half, even when they went with lineups that featured a trio of rookies (Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye) who are collectively finding ways to contribute.

Of course Tatum has been the headliner throughout training camp, and that hasn’t changed now that the games actually count.

He delivered his strongest offensive showing to date, tallying a career-high 22 points.  And Theis continues to provide some much-needed energy when he steps on the floor, tallying a career-high 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.

As for New York, they look like a team with issues that run much deeper than their lack of talent.

While Porzingis is the focal point of what they do, there’s no real feel or fluidity to what’s supposed to happen around him.

You have perimeter players who are looking shot-first before moving the ball. And the team’s big men rarely get the ball in the post and because of that, they don’t kick it out to shooters even when the defense collapses and their perimeter teammates are open.

So as good as it may feel for the Celtics to have won this game convincingly, it has to be put in perspective.

The New York Knicks are a bad team that’s going to be among the worst teams in the NBA this season.

Because of that, the Celtics simply did what they should do to teams like that and that’s beat them, convincingly.


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