New York, Feb. 28 (BNA): Jason Tatum passed away just minutes before the Boston Celtics relinquished the NBA lead, after being ejected from a game for the first time in his career.
The referees frustrated the All-Star forward. The Associated Press reported that the New York defense frustrated the rest of the Celtics.
“It wasn’t our best kicking night,” striker Al Horford said. They were the better team tonight.
Julius Randle and Emmanuel Kwikley each scored 23 points, and the Knicks’ soaring moved Boston out of the lead in the NBA’s overall standings with their sixth straight win, 109-94 Monday night.
Tatum struggled with a 6-for-18 performance in shooting and was sacked in the fourth quarter after committing a second technical foul. He finished with 14 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.
Jalen Brunson added 17 points for the Knicks (36-27), which moved ahead of Brooklyn into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re in a good position, but we have a lot of work to do,” Bronson said.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 for the Celtics (44-18), who lost All-Star Jaylen Brown due to personal reasons. They fell percentage points behind Milwaukee (43-17), which has won 14 straight games and now has the best record in the NBA.
Marcus Smart added 19 points, but Boston missed 20 of their first 22 attempts from within 3-point range and snapped their three-game winning streak.
Tatum beat the 76ers Saturday in Philadelphia with a three-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining for a 110-107 win, but he was unable to land his shot outside on Monday. He missed his first six 3-point attempts and finished 1-for-9 behind the arc.
Even when he entered, things didn’t work out. His first half dunk attempt was blocked by Mitchell Robinson, and Tatum’s drive-in dunk in the third quarter was followed by his first technical foul due to his reaction afterward, believing a foul was made.
He got his second goal and was sacked moments after his final three-point miss in the fourth, yelling and pointing to the half of the field in the belief that he had been fouled.
Tatum said he didn’t know the difference between keeping his temper in check but going too far on Monday.
“But all the great players have been sent off many times in their careers, so that’s good for my rep,” he said.
New York took the lead in the second quarter and never gave up. The margin was in double digits for most of the second half, with the Celtics unable to shoot well enough to sustain any good stretch.
Randle scored 12 points in the first quarter and Boston went 1-for-12 behind the arc as New York took a 27-15 lead.
Bronson’s three-point play capped off an 8-0 lead and gave the Knicks a 47-27 lead midway through the second quarter. The Celtics went up by 12 straight points to close to 49-41, but RJ Barrett pinned the Knicks with a three-pointer followed by a three-pointer, and the lead was back to 60-46 at the break.
“Obviously their record tells you how good they are and they can hit the ground really quickly because of the way they shoot all three,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Their shot profile is great, so no captain feels safe.”
But it was Monday. The Celtics finished 9-for-42 of 3 and didn’t hit a significant run after halftime.
The two teams meet again on Sunday in Boston.
Celtics: Coach Joe Mazzola said the Browns are expected to return Wednesday against Cleveland. … Derrick White started for the Browns and scored 13 points but missed all 5 of their 3-point attempts.
Knicks: Need one win to match last season’s total after finishing 37-45. … Mitchell Robinson scored 10 points, hitting all 5 shots, and 13 rebounds.
Celtics: Host Cleveland on Wednesday.
Knicks: Hosts Brooklyn FC on Wednesday.