Lineup change helps Celtics beat Knicks, snap 3-game skid
NEW YORK (AP) Avery Bradley scored 26 points, Jared Sullinger added 22 and the Boston Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 108-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
Bradley shot 11 for 14 from the field for the Celtics, who rediscovered their offense after a lineup change that put rookie Marcus Smart in the backcourt with Bradley. Smart made consecutive 3-pointers during the Celtics' 14-2 start, and they never trailed.
Sullinger finished with nine rebounds and six assists. Boston had been limited to just 86.7 points per game during its skid, including a season-low 75 in an eight-point loss to Miami on Sunday.
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points for the Knicks, who had won five of seven during their best stretch of the season. But they had no energy at the start and not enough at the finish.
New York did cut it to 86-82 with about 8 minutes left, but Sullinger had two baskets and Jae Crowder - who came out of the starting lineup to make way for Smart - added another to push the lead back into double figures. Bradley and Smart then followed a Knicks basket with consecutive jumpers, putting it away at 96-84 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
Smart and Crowder each scored 13.
The Knicks came in with as many wins in the last seven games as in the entire first half of their schedule, when they were 5-36. They had limited teams to 91.4 points per game during those seven, about 10 per game fewer than the first 41. But they allowed the Celtics to make their first five shots and 54.5 percent for the game.
Bradley had eight in the second quarter, including a layup that capped a 12-4 run that extended Boston's lead to 55-39 with 2:27 left in the half.
Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said the lineup change wasn't necessarily a permanent thing and that he would constantly evaluate. ... Tayshaun Prince missed his second straight game with a hip injury. The veteran forward warmed up before the game in hopes of playing before being ruled out.
Knicks: With Amare Stoudemire (sprained left ankle) out again, coach Derek Fisher said he hoped the veteran forward could be available this weekend. The Knicks play Friday against Brooklyn and host Golden State on Saturday. .. Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, a former Knick, was at the game. The Clippers remained in New York after losing in Brooklyn on Monday night.
Celtics: Host Denver on Wednesday.
Knicks: Visit Brooklyn on Friday.