Kristaps Porzingis finishes with 26 points but foul trouble forces him to sit out the final minutes.
Carmelo Anthony rolled his ankle and spent most of the second half in the locker room. Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, couldn’t stop fouling and watched most of the last two quarters from the bench.
And yet even without their two best players, the Knicks still found a will and a way to beat the Boston Celtics on Tuesday and return to the land of .500.
With rookie point guard Jerian Grant had 10 points and six assists in the fourth quarter and Arron Afflalo also scored 10 in the period as the Knicks defeated the Celtics 120-114.
The Knicks improved to 20-20 despite Anthony playing just 19 minutes after injuring his ankle in the first half. Porzingis played just eight second half minutes due to foul trouble but the Knicks, after falling behind 107-106, outscored Boston 14-7 in the last 2:30.
Anthony was playing well, having scored 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, before suffering an ankle injury late in the first half. He started the second half but lasted just 30 seconds before leaving for x-rays, which were negative. His status for Wednesday’s game in Brooklyn is uncertain.
Anthony suffered a similar injury three weeks ago and missed a game against Cleveland.
Carmelo Anthony drops 17 points before leaving with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Porzingis was at times dominant. He finished with 26 points on 10 for 16 shooting before fouling out after 27 minutes. Afflalo scored 20 of his 24 in the second half and Derrick Williams added 15.
Boston dropped to 19-19 overall despite Isaiah Thomas scored 34 points. Jae Crowder added 21 and Jared Sullinger scored 14 off the bench. The Celtics struggled defensively as the Knicks shot 54 percent.
Anthony went down with 1:20 remaining in the first half when he rolled his right ankle while making a sudden stop as he back peddled. He remained on the court for a few seconds before retreating to the locker room. He started the second half but within 30 seconds he was back on the bench and eventually left for treatment.
The Anthony-Porzingis combination, which had helped the Knicks build a 14-point lead in the first half, was finished for the third quarter when Porzingis picked up his fourth foul with 8:49 remaining in the period.
The Celtics, behind Thomas, closed to within 83-81 before Jerian Grant, hit a fade away jumper at the buzzer. Porzingis returned to start the fourth quarter but after hitting a jumper to put the Knicks ahead 93-90 Porzingis fouled Sullinger when the beefy Celtics center drove to the basket.
Derrick Williams celebrates after pulling down a rebound in the final minute.
Porzingis’ fifth foul placed him back on the bench with 8:26 left. Sullinger made one free throw to but the Knicks lead to 93-91 and then he tied it on a dunk. After Afflalo misfired on a jumper, Evan Turner’s basket gave Boston its first lead of the second half.
Sullinger’s three-point play gave Boston a 102-99 lead but Afflalo answered with a jumper and Derrick Williams’ three-point play made it 104-102 with 4:16 to play. Porzingis returned with four minutes left and made an immediate impact by hitting a baseline jumper over Amir Johnson.
Brad Stevens called a time out and drew up a play that resulted in Jae Crowder hitting a three. Porzingis then missed a deep three and made another critical mistake by fouling Crowder as he shot a three.
Porzingis was done with 2:44 remaining and Crowder gave the Celtics a 107-106 lead by making two of three free throws. Lopez answered with a hook and after Turner’s three was long, Williams leaked out and Grant’s perfect 60 foot touchdown pass was converted into a dunk.
Johnson and Afflalo traded baskets and after Stevens called time out with 1:21 left, Avery Bradley’s driving lay-up made it a one-point guard. Grant then drove left and banked home a difficult runner only to have Thomas hit a pull-up jumper.
Derek Fisher called time out to run a play for Afflalo but when the play broke down and the Knicks appeared to be in trouble, Johnson tripped Grant and the rookie made both free throws with 31.4 seconds left and the Celtics were finished.