Tatum, Brown lead rested Celtics past Knicks 110-89
BOSTON (AP) — Jaylen Brown celebrated his 21st birthday by playing one of the best games of his young career.
Brown scored 23 points — just two points shy of the career high he set in last week’s season-opener — and the Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks 110-89 on Tuesday night. He left the court with the perfect present — a win.
“You can’t beat that,” he said.
Rookie Jayson Tatum added 22 points. Kyrie Irving finished with 20 points and seven assists. Al Horford chipped in with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
After dropping their first two games to open the season, the Celtics have won two straight. The Knicks remain winless through their first three games.
Brown and Tatum were both taken No. 3 overall by the Celtics in the last two drafts, and became fast friends because of their proximity in age.
Brown was active from the opening tip, connecting on 5 of his first 8 shots and scoring 13 points in the first quarter. He said he has been the beneficiary of teams paying so much attention to Irving and Horford.
“They draw a lot of attention, so I’ve got to make plays when they’re taking up a lot of that attention,” Brown said. “Me and Jayson, we’ve got to make teams guard us.”
Enes Kanter led New York with 16 points and 19 rebounds. But he got most of them in a first half in as his team struggled mightily from the field. The Knicks scored the first basket of the night, but never led again. They shot just 42 percent and went 1 of 12 from the 3-point line.
Knicks: Kanter had 16 rebounds in the first half. ... New York went 0 for 6 from 3-point line and committed 11 turnovers in the first half.
Celtics: This is the third time this season they have scored 100 or more points. ... Had five of their seven blocks in the first half. ... Coach Brad Stevens said Smart remains day-to-day, but expects that he will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Tatum and Brown are the first Celtics’ duo ever to score 20-plus points at 21 years or younger in the same game in team history. “We’re gonna keep getting more comfortable with each other as time goes on,” Tatum said.
NO SMART, NO PROBLEM
Boston played without guard Marcus Smart, who sat out his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.
But they didn’t need him. The Celtics played like a team coming off four days’ rest, taking as much as a 25-point lead late in the second quarter.
New York never recovered.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game that Tim Hardaway Jr. had been playing through a preseason ankle injury. He took a couple of hard spills, but still logged 28 minutes. He finished with six points, connecting on just 2 of his 11 shots.
“We were all out there just running like we don’t know what’s going on and that can’t happen,” Hardaway said. “I’m not playing the way I want to play. ... I can’t harp on (the ankle). You’ve got to move on, get back in the gym and work.”
Knicks: Host Nets on Friday.
Celtics: Begin two-game road trip Thursday at Milwaukee.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower