New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics: Game Grades and Analysis

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New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics: Game Grades and Analysis
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

In a battle of Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics (11-14) managed to hold off the New York Knicks (6-16) for the second time in six days with a 90-86 victory.

The first win was back on Dec. 8, when the Celtics blew out the Knicks 114-73 at Madison Square Garden. 

This was New York's third loss in four games and 12th in the last 15. 

Boston had a 17-point lead in the first half, while New York led by as many as 11 in the second. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when the game was ultimately decided.

The Knicks managed to shoot only 40 percent from the field, while the Celtics hit 48.5 percent from the field. 

 

New York Knicks

 

Carmelo Anthony, Small Forward

It was a tale of two halves for Carmelo Anthony against the Boston Celtics.

In his first 20 minutes, the six-time NBA All-Star had 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He accounted for nearly half of New York's offense during that time.

Where did all of that go in the second half? Anthony shot 2-of-11 after intermission and 1-of-8 in the fourth quarter.

Yikes.

It's hard to find fault in how he started, but how Anthony finished was the real issue. He's going to miss some important shots here and there. New York can't constantly count on him to do everything, which seemed to a recurring theme throughout the night. 

When Anthony isn't producing, who else will?

Grade: C 

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

 

Andrea Bargnani, Center

Over his last three games, Andrea Bargnani is averaging 7.0 points. He was averaging 18.0 points over a six-game stretch before this most recent trio of subpar performances.

His defense left a lot to be desired, especially against Boston forwards Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass, but Bargnani's contributions on offense helped compensate for those problems, if only just a little bit.

In 37 minutes, Il Mago scored 22 points on 9-of-22 shooting. He missed all five of attempts from the three-point line, where he's shooting 31.8 percent on the season.

Bargnani's best basketball came in the third quarter, when he scored 10 of his 22 points.

New York desperately needed a No. 2 option to complement Carmelo Anthony, so Bargnani did do his best to fill that void. 

Grade: C/C+

 

Iman Shumpert, Shooting Guard

After bruising his left knee in a collision with Mike Dunleavy Jr. against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 11, there was a chance Iman Shumpert wouldn't be able to go against the Boston Celtics. He was ruled a game-time decision earlier in the day but eventually suited up.

Was his knee still bothering him? It's hard to say, but his lift and explosiveness just wasn't there, which could be a sign that his left knee was giving him problems.

Shumpert air-balled TWO three-pointers, barely getting his legs underneath him on both attempts.

Three points on 1-of-8 shooting? That's better swept under the rug. 

Grade: D- 

 

Pablo Prigioni, Point Guard

Prior to this game, 99.9 percent of you reading these grades had attempted the same amount of free throws this season as Pablo Prigioni.

I'd like to think someone from the NBA checks these grades out, so I'll leave that 0.1 percent open to interpretation.

Well that streak FINALLY came to an end in the first quarter, as Prigioni found himself at the charity stripe for the first time all year. 

As was the case with his backcourt running mate Iman Shumpert, Prigioni was unable to give the Knicks much assistance in the scoring department, missing five of his six shots. He did have eight assists, so there's that. He's more comfortable running the offense than anything else. 

Grade: D+

 

Kenyon Martin, Power Forward

After getting called for an illegal screen (offensive foul) on one end and then failing to box out his man on the other, a frustrated Kenyon Martin would pick up a technical foul as he headed to the bench. 

A feed by Andrea Bargnani to an open Martin under the basket gave the Knicks a 61-59 lead midway through the third quarter.

He left the game in the second half after suffering an abdominal strain. He didn't return.

New York probably could have used him late as a defensive presence. Martin finished the night with eight points, seven rebounds and four steals. 

Grade: B

 

J.R. Smith, Sixth Man

What's happened to J.R. Smith? In a very uncharacteristic manner, Smith didn't even attempt a shot from the field in the first half. He did grab four rebounds and dish out three assists, but with the Knicks trailing big early on, perhaps Smith should have been more aggressive on offense.

Maybe it's good that he didn't. He's only shooting 34.3 percent from the field on the season. 

Was it a sign of unselfish play, or is Smith simply losing faith in his own ability to put up points?

26 minutes and just one shot? I'm starting to think that wasn't J.R. Smith out there at all. 

Grade: C-

 

Bench

Who was most responsible for the New York Knicks failing to win this game?

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This isn't the Amar'e Stoudemire of old, but it's an Amar'e Stoudemire fans of the New York Knicks are slowly falling in love with. He recognized mismatches, especially against Vitor Faverani, and looked to attack his man. A line of 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting is how he'd finish the night. It's one of the few things New Yorkers can take away from this game and actually smile about.

Beno Udrih and Tim Hardaway Jr. didn't bring much to the table, scoring just two points between the two of them.

Metta World Peace played just 11 seconds in the first half. Could he be on his way out of town?

Grade: C+, if only because of Stoudemire. 

 

Boston Celtics

Jeff Green, Small Forward

Did Jeff Green use up all of his offense against the Los Angeles Clippers (29 points and four rebounds) on Dec. 11?

He only scored eight points on the night, but his (awkward) basket with 9.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, which gave Boston a 90-86 lead, will make forgiving him far easier to do.

That was enough to put the Knicks away for good. It was a slow night, but Green delivered when it mattered most, especially with his defense on Carmelo Anthony late in the game. 

Grade: C+

 

 

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jordan Crawford, Point Guard

Jordan Crawford has been a revelation this season for the Boston Celtics, averaging 14.2 points (second on the team) and 5.5 assists.

Against the New York Knicks, there was not a heck of a lot to like about his game. His shot wasn't falling at all.

Seriously. He didn't did hit one shot all night, going 0-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from three-point range.

This game was a perfect example of why shot selection is so important. Rather than letting the offense come to him, Crawford forced the issue and made bad decisions. 

Grade: D

 

Brandon Bass, Power Forward

After finishing with a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds on Dec. 11 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Brandon Bass would follow up that performance with 10 points and eight rebounds against the New York Knicks. 

It was a very quiet night for Bass. Maybe it was the hot shooting of Courtney Lee or the dominance down low of Jared Sullinger, but it was easy to forget that Bass was out there, which is crazy to think, given his production.

Simple and effective. That's all you can ask for. 

He did have a hard time defending Carmelo Anthony, which isn't the easiest job to undertake in the first place. Anthony had an advantage with his quickness and agility, so that's why Bass was eventually moved away from that matchup in favor of Jeff Green. 

Grade: B-

 

Jared Sullinger, Center

Andrea Bargnani never stood a chance in the low post against Jared Sullinger. The second-year forward out of Ohio State knew this and took advantage of it. Kenyon Martin didn't put up much of a fight either.

In the first half, Sullinger scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting. He also hit all seven of his attempts from the charity stripe. 

That early success didn't carry over to the game's final 24 minutes. He scored just two points in the second half, as the team failed to run their offense through him much, if at all.

His 19 points still led the team.

Grade: A -


Avery Bradley, Point Guard

With 2:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, Avery Bradley would hit a clutch three-pointer from the right wing to give Boston an 86-84 lead.

His offense came in many shapes and forms on this night. He looked to draw contact and get to the basket, but he also tried to get things going with his mid-range game, keeping the defense honest.

With Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford failing to score, Bradley would step up and be more assertive on offense.

His 13 points (seven of which came in the fourth quarter) and six rebounds aren't going to blow you away. It was simply a good all-around game for Bradley, but nothing overly spectacular, at least on the stat sheet. His defensive intensity in the fourth quarter on top of his seven fourth-quarter points are what mattered the most. 

Grade: B+/A-

 

Bench

After missing 10 games with a sprained ankle, rookie Kelly Olynyk returned to the Boston Celtics in a reserve role. His massive block on Iman Shumpert in the third quarter gave Boston a nice spark, as the Celtics looked to regain the lead.

In 14 minutes, Olynyk had four points and four rebounds, but he did turn the ball over four times as well.

Courtney Lee had a knack for the theatrics from long range in the opening 12 minutes. He nailed an awkward three-pointer off the glass as the shot clock expired and then another three-pointer over Pablo Prigioni as the first quarter came to an end. 

When you're hot, you're hot. Lee missed just two shots all night and made all three of his attempts from behind the arc. He finished with 18 points in 19 minutes. 

The veteran Gerald Wallace had seven points and six rebounds, including this massive slam dunk.

Vitor Faverani hit key baskets in the fourth quarter, while Phil Pressey gave Boston some valuable minutes at point guard, ending up with a plus/minus of plus-16. 

Grade: B+

 

What's Next?

The New York Knicks will play the second game of a back-to-back on Dec. 14 as they host Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. 

The Boston Celtics will now have the weekend off before they return to action on Dec. 16, as Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town. 

 

Follow Featured Columnist/NBA Live Blogger Christopher Walder on Twitter at @WalderSports

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