NBA-leading Celtics cruise to 8th straight win

POSTER IN THE MAKING. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (No. 0) attempts to dunk over New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa in the National Basketball Association game in New York.
POSTER IN THE MAKING. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (No. 0) attempts to dunk over New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa in the National Basketball Association game in New York. AP

NEW YORK — Jaylen Brown scored 30 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 22 and the league-leading Boston Celtics easily handled the New York Knicks 116-102 on Sunday (PH time), Feb. 25, 2024, for their eighth consecutive victory in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Brown shot 13-for-24 from the field and had eight rebounds for the Celtics, who improved to 45-12 and sit atop the Eastern Conference with an eight-game lead over Cleveland.

The All-Star forward downplayed the big advantage in the standings with less than two months left before the start of the postseason.

“When it comes down to the playoffs, none of that stuff really matters,” Brown said. “I feel like it’s going to be about matchups, it’s going to be about playing hard. Obviously, home court (advantage) matters. So, that is key. You get into the thick of it, you’ve got to win basketball games.”

Jayson Tatum had 19 points with six assists and six rebounds and Derrick White added 13 for Boston, who have won 10 of their last 11.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzula gushed over the performance of Tatum, who has at least five assists in seven of his last nine games and six rebounds in 16 of 17 games.

“I thought today was a beautiful display of basketball from Jayson,” Mazzula said. “It won’t go into the most valuable category, but his ability to control the game with his pick-and-roll pace, his pick-and-roll passing, his defense. He put himself on (Jalen) Brunson, welcoming 2-on-1s and creating for others was great. My hats off to him for knowing that’s a way for us to win.”

Brunson had 34 points on 12-for-25 shooting from the field and 4-for-9 from 3-point range and Josh Hart had 16 for the Knicks, who were swept by Boston in their four-game season series.

Boston opened the second half with a 4-point lead before the All-Star tandem of Brown and Tatum along with Porzingis, a 2015 first-round draft pick of the Knicks, sparked a 30-11 spurt to put the game out of reach.

After Isaiah Hartenstein hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit for New York to 67-61, Porzingis and Tatum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 73-66. That forced the Knicks to call timeout with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

New York then turned the ball over on the following possession and Brown answered with a three-pointer before Brunson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws that made it 76-69.

The Knicks and Celtics traded baskets before Porzingis started a 10-0 run with a 3 from the top of the key and Brown closed it with a layup to extend the lead 88-71 with 3:53 remaining in the quarter.

Hart and Brunson followed with consecutive baskets, but Boston responded with a 9-0 run capped by Tatum’s 3 that made it 97-77 with 1:30 left in the quarter and drew loud “Let’s Go Celtics!” chants from the visiting fans before boos rained down from the Knicks faithful.

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