Jayson Tatum had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics withstood his careless foul with 1.9 seconds left to beat the Knicks, 103-101, on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Tatum had just given the Celtics a three-point lead with two free throws with 7.9 seconds left, and the Knicks called their final timeout. They had trouble getting the ball inbounded from the sideline, and Knicks guard Trey Burke had to race into the backcourt to retrieve it as the clock ran down.
He pulled up for a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc and Tatum jumped to contest it, fouling Burke for three free throws that could have tied it. But he missed the first, and the Knicks could not grab the rebound when he intentionally missed the third.
Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris each added 16 points for the Celtics, who rebounded from a loss in Toronto on Friday night. They won despite giving Gordon Hayward a night off to rest his surgically repaired left ankle.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points for the Knicks, who lost the rookie Kevin Knox to a sprained left ankle in the first quarter. Enes Kanter had 17 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out of their second two-point loss in two nights. Kanter became the first Knick since Zach Randolph (2007-8) to start the season with three straight double-doubles.
The Celtics are considered one of the Eastern Conference favorites, but Coach Brad Stevens said the Raptors were clearly better now and Boston needed to improve after Toronto’s 113-101 victory on Friday night.
The Celtics looked sharp early in racing to a 26-10 lead on Saturday and still had a double-digit cushion midway through the second quarter before Damyean Dotson’s second straight 3-pointer trimmed it to 50-48 by halftime.
Boston seemed to be regaining control early in the fourth quarter, but again the Knicks came back, tying it at 89-89 on consecutive 3-pointers by Hardaway.
But Irving had five points and an assist in a 7-0 burst that put the Celtics on top again and they held on from there, with Tatum hitting a tough turnaround jumper with 21 seconds left and missing a dunk earlier in the possession.
Knox was driving for a layup on a fast break when his ankle appeared to roll badly as he was fouled by Terry Rozier III. Knox stayed on the court briefly, appearing in pain, then was carried off by two teammates.
Because Knox, the No. 9 overall pick, was not able to shoot the free throws, he was, by rule, forced to miss the remainder of the game. The Knicks said X-rays on his ankle were negative.
In other Knicks injury news, Coach David Fizdale said that guard Courtney Lee would see specialists Monday after having neck spasms that went down into his chest. Lee was sidelined throughout the preseason by a neck injury.
PACERS 132 NETS 112 Victor Oladipo had 25 points and seven rebounds to lead host Indiana past the Nets.
Kyle O’Quinn came off the bench and scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in the victory. Bojan Bogdanovic and Tyreke Evans each scored 15 points for the Pacers (2-1), who bounced back after a 118-101 loss at Milwaukee on Friday. Nine Pacers scored in double figures.
Joe Harris and Caris LeVert each scored 19 points for the Nets (1-2), who have lost seven straight at Indiana.