Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez (14) and forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) react after a play against the Boston Celtics in the second half at TD Garden. The Knicks defeated the Celtics 117-106. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks earned a shocking victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Who stepped up during the 117-106 win?
The New York Knicks entered Wednesday, Jan 18 with negative momentum and a lost season on the horizon. With 11 losses in 13 games, the Knicks were in danger of falling to 18-25 with a road game against the Boston Celtics.
With two starters and a key role player all sidelined by injuries, the Knicks played as a team and upset the Celtics 117-106 on the road.
Boston entered the clash with New York having won 13 of its past 16 games. The Knicks, meanwhile, were without starters Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah, as well as key reserve Lance Thomas.
Despite playing without two starters and the player who replaced Porzingis in the starting lineup, the Knicks pulled off a shocking victory.
Isaiah Thomas went off for 39 points and Jae Crowder had 21 for the Celtics. Six Knicks scored in double figures, another flirted with a triple-double, and New York shot 50.5 percent from the field as a team.
The question is: which members of the New York Knicks stepped up during the stunning 117-106 road victory over the Boston Celtics?
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) passes the ball to center Al Horford (42) against New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez (14) in the second half at TD Garden. The Knicks defeated the Celtics 117-106. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks have found a low-post scoring threat who could help anchor the offense for years to come alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Overlooked on the night of the 2015 NBA Draft, Willy Hernangomez is becoming a force to be reckoned with during his rookie season.
Against the Boston Celtics, Hernangomez had the best performance of his young Knicks career with a splendid performance on both ends.
Hernangomez went off for 17 points, 11 rebounds, four offensive boards, and one assist in 20 minutes of play. He shot 8-of-13 from the field and 1-of-1 from the free throw line with a +/- of +9.
Despite receiving just 20 minutes of court time, Hernangomez posted a splendid double-double and dominated the interior.
Hernangomez worked the pick and roll, ran the floor, and went to the post for his 17 points. He displayed a well-rounded offensive game that’s far more polished than that of the average 22-year-old NBA center.
Hernangomez’s flashes of brilliance are scattered, but he’s looked the part of a future star on more than one occasion in 2016-17.
Nov 30, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Knicks guard Justin Holiday (8) during a game at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 106-104. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
If you don’t watch the games, then you may never appreciate Justin Holiday for the player he’s becoming. His impact on the game doesn’t always show up statistically, but his impact is felt on both ends of the floor.
The statistics were an accurate representation of his impact and influence on the New York Knicks’ victory over the Boston Celtics.
Holiday played 19 big minutes and recorded a +/- of +23 during the 11-point win over the Celtics. During those 19 minutes of action, he recorded 13 points, five rebounds, and a block on 4-of-8 shooting from the field.
Holiday also shot 2-of-5 from beyond the arc and 3-of-3 from the free throw line in an efficient and invaluable performance.
Holiday’s defense and shooting proficiency are constants that the Knicks have been able to depend upon. It’s his ability to crash the boards, come up with loose balls, and never quit that plays the biggest factor in his value to the Knicks.
Holiday’s statistics may not always jump off the page, but he’s one of the most dependable performers on the roster.
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) drives the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The perimeter combination of Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, and Justin Holiday worked spectacularly against the Boston Celtics. Not only do the three players complement one another well, but they knew exactly how to set up their big men.
After struggling against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Jan. 16, Jennings led the second unit with a strong showing against Boston on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Jennings did a bit of everything for the Knicks in a bounce-back performance that he was desperately needing. He posted 11 points, five assists, four rebounds, one offensive board, and a block on 3-of-7 shooting from the field.
Jennings also went 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 3-of-4 at the free throw line with a fitting +/- of +19.
When Jennings took the court, the game changed and the momentum shifted in New York’s favor. He invigorated the offense with his crafty passes and created scoring opportunities for teammates who needed help developing a rhythm.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek has been altering his rotations in recent games, which makes Jennings’ performance quite encouraging.
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) defends against New York Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Mindaugas Kuzminskas has been a revelation for the New York Knicks. He stepped up with 14 points in 16 minutes on New Year’s Eve and, in the 10 games that have followed, he’s maintained a stellar pace.
Against the Boston Celtics, Kuzminskas showed no fear in stepping up to help lead the New York Knicks to a desperately needed victory.
Kuzminskas continued his hot stretch with 17 points, six rebounds, two offensive boards, and two assists in 29 minutes. He shot 6-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
This was yet another sensational showing from Kuzminskas, who’s rapidly developing into a go-to player at small forward.
Kuzminskas has now scored at least 14 points in three of the past four games. He’s scored at least 13 points in six of his past 10 appearances, and played an instrumental role in each of the Knicks’ two most recent wins.
Kuzminskas scored 19 points during New York’s previous win and had 14 in his first start on Jan. 16. That has him positioned for a breakout second half of the season.
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) steals the ball from Boston Celtics forward Jordan Mickey (55) in the second half at TD Garden. The Knicks defeated the Celtics 117-106. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
For the second consecutive game, Courtney Lee came off the bench. Having started 36 of his first 37 appearances, many feared that Lee would be disgruntled with Jeff Hornacek’s decision to start Ron Baker at shooting guard.
Instead, Lee stepped up with his most well-rounded showing of the season in 38 sensational minutes off the bench.
Lee responded to adversity with nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two offensive boards, and a block in 38 crucial minutes. He shot 4-of-8 from the field and 1-of-3 from beyond the 3-point line with a +/- of +18.
Lee got the job done on both ends of the floor and showed maturity, poise, and leadership in the way he embraced his new role.
Lee facilitated the offense and controlled the pace of the game with his uncanny ability to find himself in the right spots on both ends of the floor. He answered the call when Ron Baker found himself in foul trouble and didn’t let his emotions get the best of him.
With seven assists and no turnovers, Lee provided the efficient two-way performance that New York needed to balance out its scoring.
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (40) shoots against Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks were down three big men against the Boston Celtics. Starting power forward Kristaps Porzingis was nursing a sore achilles tendon, starting center Joakim Noah had an ankle injury, and Lance Thomas is suffering from an orbital fracture.
With the Knicks running thin down low, Marshall Plumlee was given a rare opportunity to play big minutes and showcase his abilities.
Plumlee received double-digit minutes for just the second time during the 2016-17 NBA regular season. He played a career-high 20 minutes and recorded five points, seven rebounds, three offensive boards, three assists, and two blocks.
Plumlee also shot 2-of-2 from the field and 1-of-3 from the free throw line while recording a +/- of +11.
Whenever Plumlee takes the court, he provides energy and toughness that can’t be fairly measured by statistics. He fouls hard, sends a message to players driving the lane, chases down loose balls, and boxes out for rebounds.
It’s a testament to Plumlee’s character that he stepped up with a big performance despite having not played a single minute of NBA action since Dec. 15.
Jan 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) drives the ball against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Matched up against one of the best point guards in the NBA, Derrick Rose had his best game of the season. He dominated the fourth quarter, stepped up in the fourth quarter on defense, and closed out the biggest win of the year.
Against Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics, Rose justified the belief that he can reclaim his status as a star-caliber point guard.
Rose went off for 30 points, 10 rebounds, four offensive boards, five assists, two blocks, and two steals in 33 minutes. He shot 13-of-24 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line, including the multiple clutch buckets he recorded.
Rose scored 12 of his 30 points during the fourth quarter, including eight points during the final 6:05 alone.
Rose competed feverishly to crash the boards and create second chances against the Celtics. He also made plays in the passing lanes, including a brilliant disruption of a bounce pass that led to points on the other end.
With the season on the line, the Knicks turned to Rose during the biggest of moments and he consistently answered the call.