Celtics swarm Porzingis so Beasley plays hero for Knicks



If the world really is flat like a basketball court, as Kyrie Irving claims it is, then the smart money says that Michael Beasley can score from anywhere on the planet.


And the Boston Celtics still wouldn’t double team him.


The Celtics managed to outsmart themselves on Thursday by defending Kristaps Porzingis so well that the Unicorn was benched in favor of the one player, Beasley, Boston couldn’t stop.


“He’s a great individual scorer,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the Knicks’ 102-93 win. “That’s what he does.”


Beasley, the born scorer turned NBA journeyman, not only stole the show but he rescued the Knicks and had the crowd actually chanting “M-V-P.” (That chant has officially jumped the shark.)


“He made the difference,” Irving said.


The Knicks definitely found a lifeline in Beasley just as Porzingis was suffering the worst night of his NBA life. Porzingis, returning after missing two games with a sore left knee, missed all 11 shots he attempted. He was removed for good with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter and the Knicks trailing by nine.

The Knicks definitely found a lifeline in Michael Beasley just as Kristaps Porzingis was suffering the worst night of his NBA life.

The Knicks definitely found a lifeline in Michael Beasley just as Kristaps Porzingis was suffering the worst night of his NBA life.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)


“Kobe says you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” Porzingis said. “Tonight, I missed all 100.”


But without Porzingis being so inept, Beasley never would have had the chance to be so good. He scored 28 of his 32 points in the final 17 minutes as the Celtics made the decision not to double Beasley in the post.


“Yes, you love to throw doubles at him but then you open up the three-point line,” Stevens added.


This was an important win for the Knicks, who have now defeated the top three teams in the East: Boston, Cleveland and Toronto. They also improved to 17-14, which was their win total the season before the arrival of Porzingis, who should be well rested for Friday’s game in Detroit.


The immediate outlook for the Celtics and Irving suddenly looks cloudy. Boston is still a top team, no question about it. But the team that won 16 games over October and November has dropped five of its last nine and one of those victories was a miracle finish at Indiana.


“I don’t think there is a cause for concern,” Al Horford said. “I think we’re going to be okay so there’s no need to overreact.”

Kristaps Porzingis, returning after missing two games with a sore left knee, missed all 11 shots he attempted.

Kristaps Porzingis, returning after missing two games with a sore left knee, missed all 11 shots he attempted.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)


Twenty-four hours after Boston lost at home to the Miami Heat, starting shooting guard Jaylen Brown was ruled out with left Achilles soreness. Boston has gotten used to playing shorthanded. The Celtics lost Gordon Hayward to a gruesome, season-ending ankle injury five minutes into the season opener at Cleveland. They’re also without Marcus Morris, who is rehabbing a knee injury.


Still, the Celtics came into Thursday with a league-high 26 wins. They’re well coached, organized and play sound team defense. Just ask Porzingis. Beasley may think otherwise.


But all the moves Celtics GM Danny Ainge made in order to acquire Irving and Hayward have left Boston a little thin on the bench. Something tells me that when Irving left Cleveland he wasn’t expecting to be starting the fourth quarter of a game in New York alongside Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye and Abdel Nader.


That’s not exactly Bird, Parish and McHale.


That group fared well in the first half as Boston erased a 14-point deficit, but when Stevens went back to them in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 68, he was playing with fire. And believing that Ojeleye could handle Beasley was a huge mistake.


“No need to get frustrated,” Irving said. “It’s part of the game. We’re still learning how to manage the game better.”   

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