Maxwell Smart, the fictional spy from the famous TV sitcom “Get Smart” used this catchphrase a number of times. “Missed it by that much”, agent “86” said. Marcus Smart, the Boston Celtics guard, who was not on a TV sitcom and had the last laugh, did not miss it.
“It” was a crushing three point shot from Smart that neutralized a furious Knicks comeback and keyed a 119-114 Celtics win at the Garden.
“That kick out to the corner three was kinda of a killer”, said head coach Jeff Hornacek.
The win dropped the Knicks to 11-5 at MSG.
The Knicks trailed 110-101 with three minutes left but Kristaps Porzingis keyed a run with six consecutive points to make it 112-110.
After Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas missed a three point attempt, Carmelo Anthony took a nice feed from Joakim Noah and connected on a lay-up to tie the game at 112 with 1:06 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Smart positioned himself on the left side, just in front of the Boston bench. The 6’4”, 220 lb point guard took a pass from Boston big man Al Horford in the lane and canned the go ahead bucket with 47 seconds left that not only gave Boston the lead but it also demoralized the Knicks who had fought so hard to tie the game.
“It was pretty deflating”, Hornacek said. “I thought we were playin’ some pretty good defense there during that possession”.
After an electric third quarter where he scored 15 of his game high 29 points, Anthony struggled down the stretch as he missed a 3-pointer that would’ve tied it and then committed a costly turnover to cost the Knicks any shot at a comeback.
“It’s not only the end part”, Porzingis said, “it’s throughout the whole game that we can get better”.
The Knicks were on top of their game early on as they took a six point lead in the second quarter, but the Celtics went on an 11-0 run to take control. Celtics starting forward Jae Crowder came back in the game to score nine points during the run with three 3-pointers as Boston took a 56-48 at halftime.
The Knicks trailed by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter before making their run that fell short.
As was the case in their 28-point blowout in “Beantown” in their first meeting of the season back in November, the Knicks allowed the Celtics to thrive behind the arc. Thomas was 3 of 13 from three but the rest of the team was a combined 11 for 23, while the Knicks made only 8 of 23 three pointers. “Defensively, we weren’t great tonight”, said Hornacek.
One other telling number was the turnover discrepancy. The Celtics scored 14 points off of 17 Knicks’ turnovers while Boston only turned it over 8 times.
Thomas was a tough match up for the Knicks. “Isaiah’s a handful”, Hornacek said of the energetic guard who had a 44 point game earlier in the week.
In his first Christmas game, Porzingis scored 22 points and 12 rebounds but would’ve preferred a win. “We wanted to win it for us and win for the crowd”, KP said.