Celtics have no answer for Beasley in 102-93 loss to Knicks

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NEW YORK – It’s official.

The Boston Celtics haven’t played great basketball of late, but they’ve consistently managed to do just enough to avoid a losing streak … until now.

The New York Knicks (17-15) pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 102-93 win which was Boston’s second straight loss.

The Celtics (26-9) haven’t lost back-to-back games since dropping the first two at the start of the season.

Boston had no answer for Michael Beasley who led the Knicks with 32 points (28 in the second half), the kind of scoring outburst they needed with their top scorer Kristaps Porzingis (1 points, 0-for-11 shooting) a non-factor and nowhere to be found on the floor down the stretch.

For the Celtics, it was once again the Kyrie Irving show offensively. He would finish with 32 points which was his third straight game and fifth in the last six matchups, that he has scored 30 or more points.

Boston seemed to run out of steam in the fourth quarter after playing their best basketball of the game, in the third.  

The Celtics seemed to awaken from their first-half slumber, playing with noticeably more energy, effort and execution at both ends of the floor.

Boston opened the third quarter with a 17-9 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Marcus Smart who was in the starting lineup for Jaylen Brown who was out because of a sore Achilles injury that isn’t expected to keep him out for a significant amount of time.

The Celtics’ third-quarter play was reminiscent to not that long ago when they reeled off 16 straight wins, a stretch that included a win over the Knicks.

But that team and how they played, is a thing of the past now with the Celtics of today not playing with the same ability to close teams out.  

Like Wednesday’s 90-89 loss to Miami, the Celtics failed to make the necessary plays down the stretch that we had seen them do time and time again earlier this season.

The physical toll of what has been a season-long grind is starting to catch up to the Celtics, who have consistently looked a step slow and out of sync at both ends of the floor.

Just to put their schedule in perspective, they played five games in seven nights last week.

And beginning with last Sunday, they are in the middle of a four-games-in-seven-nights stretch now.

Boston didn’t help itself with one of the few rough starts to games, on Thursday.

New York opened the game with a blistering 13-2 run before the Celtics finally slowed them down with a time-out.

Boston went on a mini-spurt of its own with five straight points, but the Knicks were in a nice groove at both ends of the floor which propelled them to a 25-15 lead after one quarter of play.

The second quarter featured Boston going on an 8-0 run capped off by an Abdel Nader 3-pointer. But the Knicks responded with their own run.

And that became the narrative of the night as Boston’s attempts to get back into the game had the look and feel of a sprinter running in quicksand.

Progress was made, but not enough to get any kind of real traction.

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