RJ Barrett Hits Epic Buzzer-Beater as Knicks Rally from 25 Points Down to Top Celtics

Doric SamJanuary 7, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 06:  RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks drives against Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 06, 2022 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Knicks earned their second straight win by defeating the Boston Celtics 108-105 at Madison Square Garden, thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by R.J. Barrett.


RJ BARRETT FOR THE WIN 🚨 <a href="https://t.co/tsU3oqFjOT">pic.twitter.com/tsU3oqFjOT</a>

The Knicks overcame a 25-point deficit in the first half to earn the win on Thursday. Evan Fournier led the way with a career-high 41 points as New York improved to 19-20. Fournier shot 10-of-14 from beyond the arc, tying the franchise record for three-pointers made.


πŸ”Ÿ 3PM for Evan Fournier...oh and 41 PTS!<a href="https://twitter.com/celtics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@celtics</a> 101<a href="https://twitter.com/nyknicks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyknicks</a> 101<br>Q4 1:20 Remaining on TNT <a href="https://t.co/DvkAuHB4ht">pic.twitter.com/DvkAuHB4ht</a>

With the win, the Knicks are no longer in last place in the Atlantic Division.

The Celtics fell to 18-21 after their fifth loss in the last seven games. Boston has also now lost six consecutive road games. Jayson Tatum had a team-high 36 points and nine assists in the loss.

Notable Stats

G Evan Fournier, NYK: 41 points (career high); 10-of-14 3-pt FG (ties franchise record)

F Julius Randle, NYK: 22 points, 8 rebounds

F Jayson Tatum, BOS: 36 points, 9 assists

G Dennis Schroder, BOS: 20 points (off bench)

Fournier Dominates Celtics Once Again to Propel Knicks to Magical Victory

If Fournier could play the Celtics every night, he would be a happy man. These games bring out the best in him, and Thursday night was no different.

Fournier was the only Knicks player to have anything going early, as his 19 points in the first half made him the only player on his team with double figures. But his steady scoring in the second half was key to igniting the crowd and spearheading the Knicks' comeback.


πŸ—£ JUICE β€˜EM UP <a href="https://twitter.com/EvanFourmizz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvanFourmizz</a> <a href="https://t.co/DiJuUY2rGn">pic.twitter.com/DiJuUY2rGn</a>


Evan. Walking bucket. <a href="https://t.co/YPh5WwWhlb">pic.twitter.com/YPh5WwWhlb</a>

New York played with a different energy in the second half on both ends of the floor. They played aggressive defense to limit Boston's scoring opportunities and did a better job of getting out in transition. 


Evan Fournier has The Garden rocking!<br>38 PTS &amp; 9 3PM (9-for-13 3PM)<a href="https://twitter.com/celtics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@celtics</a> 96<a href="https://twitter.com/nyknicks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyknicks</a> 96<br>Q4 2:40 Remaining on TNT <a href="https://t.co/9epIj7nogL">pic.twitter.com/9epIj7nogL</a>

Fournier is now the first Knicks player with three 30-point games against the Celtics in a single season since Patrick Ewing in 1996-97, per ESPN Stats & Info. His performance helped lead New York to a very unlikely win:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The Knicks WERE 1-229 when trailing by 25+ points in a game over the last 25 seasons (came back from a 26-point deficit against the Bucks on March 14, 2004). <a href="https://t.co/1531oL1AJ3">pic.twitter.com/1531oL1AJ3</a>

New York has not had the season it was hoping for coming into the year, but this gritty comeback win could be a spark for the team in the second half of the season.

If the Knicks can return to the hard-nosed, grind-it-out team they were a year ago and play that way on a consistent basis, they will be in contention for a second straight playoff berth.

Tatum's Versatility Shines Despite Defeat

Tatum is known for being an isolation scorer, but on Thursday, he made a concerted effort to get his teammates involved early and often. He only took one shot in the entire first quarter but had three assists and also played strong defense with two steals.


Jayson Tatum sets up Marcus Smart for his third assist of the night πŸ”₯ <a href="https://t.co/QET8Wr5QnM">pic.twitter.com/QET8Wr5QnM</a>

In the second quarter, Tatum began looking for his shot more and helped lead an offensive outburst that saw Boston lead by as many as 25. He scored 13 of his 36 points in the second, making three of his four three-point attempts.


Jayson Tatum gets it going from beyond the arc early 🎯 <a href="https://t.co/nKnvIINg2V">pic.twitter.com/nKnvIINg2V</a>

Tatum continued to shoulder the offensive load as both a scorer and distributor in the second half. He showed maturity with his decision-making, particularly when the Celtics relinquished their big lead and the game got close.

Boston Celtics @celtics

πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€<br><br>Now let's see it in the All-Star game πŸ‘‰πŸΎ <a href="https://t.co/lwoZWBObVS">https://t.co/lwoZWBObVS</a> <a href="https://t.co/CWwu6Iy4aw">pic.twitter.com/CWwu6Iy4aw</a>

Boston Celtics @celtics

πŸ‘ŒπŸΎπŸ‘ŒπŸΎπŸ‘ŒπŸΎ <a href="https://t.co/pLNYQdlVR8">pic.twitter.com/pLNYQdlVR8</a>


JAYSON TATUM CLUTCH <br><br>TIE GAME <a href="https://t.co/KmrFhW8RFG">pic.twitter.com/KmrFhW8RFG</a>

Tatum's poise down the stretch kept the Celtics in the game. If it wasn't for a miracle shot by Barrett, Thursday's result could have been different had the teams gone to overtime. But the night belonged to New York, which unfortunately overshadows Tatum's strong all-around performance.

StatMuse @statmuse

The Celtics join the Lakers as the only teams to blow a 25-point lead this season. <a href="https://t.co/eyEiXTk3ed">pic.twitter.com/eyEiXTk3ed</a>

Thursday's loss will be hard to get over, but the play of Tatum should give the team a silver lining going forward. Tatum's growth and maturity have given Boston head coach Ime Udoka the confidence to rely on him as the team's offensive focal point. If he can continue to make the right decisions with his scoring and getting his teammates involved, Boston may be able to turn its season around.

What's Next?

The Knicks and Celtics will face each other again on Saturday at TD Garden in Boston.