C’s go ice-cold from 3 in a frustrating loss

Celtics-Knicks takeaways: C’s go ice-cold from 3 in frustrating loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics’ three-game road trip ended with a frustrating loss to the New York Knicks on Monday night.

It was an off night offensively from the opening tip. The Celtics scored only 15 points in the first quarter, marking the only time they’ve scored fewer than 20 in the first all season. They cut the Knicks’ 20-point lead to single digits during the third quarter, but the run was short-lived as New York gave Boston its first post-All-Star break defeat, 109-94.

Malcolm Brogdon was the Celtics’ leading scorer with 22 points off the bench. Marcus Smart was another bright spot with 19 points and Jayson Tatum had 14 before earning his second technical foul and getting ejected late in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown was out due to personal reasons.

Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickly led the Knicks with 23 points apiece. Jalen Brunson chipped in 17 and was a game-best +21.

The Celtics’ loss brings them to 44-18 on the season and puts them behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the NBA by percentage points. They’ll look to bounce back when they return home Wednesday to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Here are our takeaways from Monday’s loss to the Knicks.

Ice-cold from 3

The Celtics entered Monday night with the best 3-point shooting percentage in the league after the break. They shot at least 41.2 percent from beyond the arc in eight of their previous 10 games. And the last time they played at Madison Square Garden, they shot a ridiculous 27-for-51 from deep.

No such luck this time around.

Al Horford made a 3 to start the game, then the C’s missed 17 in a row from long range. They didn’t hit another 3 until Marcus Smart finally got one to fall at the end of the second quarter. Boston finished the first half 2-for-19 on 3-pointers.

More shots fell in the second half, but not nearly enough. The Celtics finished 9-for-42 (21.4 percent) for their worst 3-point shooting game of the season. New York, meanwhile, was 12-for-31. That was the difference.

Another off night for Jayson Tatum

Other than his game-winner on Saturday, Jayson Tatum hasn’t looked like himself lately and that continued Monday night. The four-time All-Star had only six points in the first half and finished the game with 14. He shot 6-for-18 from the floor, had four turnovers, and played a role in the team’s 3-point shooting woes by going 1-for-9 from behind the arc.

With 3:46 left in the fourth quarter, Tatum was ejected for arguing with the official and earning his second technical foul. It was the first ejection of his NBA career.

This was the third consecutive night Tatum shot under 41 percent from the floor. The C’s managed to win the other two games, but that kind of performance from the Celtics star just wasn’t going to get the job done with Brown out. He’ll look to shake off the frustrating loss and end the slump Wednesday at TD Garden.

A major free-throw disparity

Fouls were an issue in Saturday’s narrow win over the Philadelphia 76ers and they came back to haunt the Celtics in Monday’s loss at MSG.

Boston doubled New York in personal fouls, 22 to 11. The Knicks had 34 free throw attempts to the Celtics’ 14. The C’s were visibly upset with how the game was being called, as seen by Tatum’s ejection.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was fine with how the game in Philadelphia was officiated. But on Monday, he carefully expressed his frustration with the foul calls.

“How can I say this without getting in trouble? It wasn’t the same as the Philly game,” he said during his postgame press conference.

Twenty-three of the Knicks’ points came from the charity stripe. That’s a tough pill to swallow in a 15-point loss.

Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart do their part

With Tatum struggling and Brown sidelined, the Celtics still found a way to make the game somewhat interesting until the end. That was because of the play of veteran guards Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart.

Brogdon notched a team-high 22 points (10-16 FG) in 28 minutes off the bench. The rest of the Celtics’ second unit combined for only seven points in the loss.

Smart led Boston’s starters with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He led the C’s 8-0 run that cut the Knicks’ lead to single digits in the third quarter.

He also had a couple of blocks, including this incredible stuff from 7-footer Isaiah Hartenstein.

Credit where it’s due. Despite the rest of the team’s woeful performance, Brogdon and Smart helped to at least keep it interesting.

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