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Tatum leads Celtics to 114-98 win over Knicks

AP – The Boston Celtics were missing a lot of three-point shots. They missed a bunch of layups, too.

Coach Joe Mazzulla would have been happy to make adjustments, but his options were limited.

“If I could come up with another shot besides a three or a layup, I’ll do it,” Mazzulla said after the Celtics snapped out of a shooting funk to beat the New York Knicks 114-98 yesterday. ”You can’t kick it in. I mean, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.”

Jayson Tatum scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics turned a 91-88 lead into a runaway. After missing seven of his first eight three-point attempts, he hit four straight down the stretch – including a contested one that led to a four-point play after the Knicks cut the deficit to three points.

“I’ve played enough games, had enough tough shooting nights,” said Tatum, who finished 13 for 23 in the game after going six for eight in the fourth quarter. ”All really, really good scorers know it just takes one to change your momentum, change how you feel about yourself shooting the ball. And once you see one go in, you just feel a lot better about yourself.”

Celtics’ Jayson Tatum takes a shot over Knicks’ Julius Randle during an NBA basketball game in Boston. PHOTO: AP
ABOVE & BELOW: Jayson Tatum lines up a shot against Josh Hart; and Kristaps Porzingis blocks a shot by Julius Randle. PHOTO: AP

Jaylen Brown added 22 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 21 against the team that drafted him.

Jalen Brunson scored 26 points and Julius Randle had 25 points and nine rebounds for New York, which was without RJ Barrett, who missed the second night of a back-to-back with a migraine headache. The Knicks had won three in a row since opening the season 2-4, including a loss to Boston in their opener.

Mazzulla said of trading punches against a longtime rival, “It’s the best. I love games like this, because it’s going to reveal who we are, what we’ve been doing and where we need to get better,” he said. “You’re not playing as well as you can be, and you’re only down one.

You’ve got to be thankful for that, because it could be a lot worse. And I thought our guys just stuck with it, with the right mindset.”

The Knicks led by eight with 75 seconds left in the second quarter before Boston made three straight baskets, scoring nine of the last 11 points of the half and cutting it to 53-52 on Brown’s three-pointer at the buzzer. Boston led by as many as 10 late in the third quarter, but the Knicks closed to 91-88 when Brunson hit a long three with eight minutes left. Tatum answered with a step-back three and drew the foul, giving Boston a 95-88 lead.

“I missed so many wide-open threes. I made the toughest one of the night, and I missed all the easy ones,” Tatum said. “That kind of got me going. I’ll take it.”

Jrue Holiday, who surpassed 15,000 points for his career with a third-quarter three-pointer, hit another three to make it a 10-point game.