After starting slow and sluggish, the Celtics used a 24-9 run to close out the first half and never looked back. The Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire-less Knicks jumped out to a 28-15 first quarter lead against the KG and Paul Pierce-less Celtics and actually led by as many as 19. Jeff Green led all Celtics with 25 points (10-16 FG, 3-5 3FG, 2-2 FT) and also had 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, one of the monster variety (see video clip above). Green and Jason Terry combined for 47 points and together shot 17-29 from the field including 7-10 on threes.
The Celtics had several highlight plays, many of which were from Rajon Rondo who was attacking the defense. Rondo created shots for everyone, including himself and although he shot 4-11, he did attack the basket and made some nice lay-ups. Rondo finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists but also had 6 turnovers. Shooting 5-7 from the free throw line (he even took a technical free throw) he’s now shooting 17 for 22 (77%) for the preseason, a huge improvement, albeit a very small sample size.
Chris Copeland of the Knicks absolutely killed the Celtics again, erupting for 34 points (11-18 FG, 3-4 3FG, 9-9 FT) and 6 rebounds. Winning the “Varejao-Noah-Faried-Kill-The-Celtics-With-Hustle” award, Copeland looked like an all-star, seriously. The abysmal defense on Copeland was the only real negative of the game as the Celtics were able to eventually keep the Knicks to 43% shooting and even out-rebounded the Knicks 39-33.
Courtney Lee was solid again in his starting role, playing aggressive defense leading to 4 steals and running at warp speed on the break. Jared Sullinger also continued his solid play in his starting 4-spot, going for 10 points and 8 rebounds. The Albany crowd was rightfully disappointed initially with the lack of star names playing, but the highlights that Rondo, Green and Copeland provided was more than enough for a preseason game.
The Celtics wrap up their preseason tomorrow night at the TD Garden with a visit from the Philadelphia 76ers. There’s no word yet on who will play or for how long, but it will likely mirror something like tonight’s game. After that, the C’s will have 8 days to prepare for opening night in Miami.