BOSTON — Boston coach Brad Stevens knows what is wrong with the Celtics. Plenty.
“This is a lot of things,” Stevens said. “We have a myriad of issues we have to fix.”
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 22 points and 13 assists, Marcus Morris had 21 points, and Al Horford and Gordon Hayward each added 19 points. It was a season-high third straight loss for Boston, which slipped to 9-9.
Pegged as one of the Eastern Conference’s favorites after they lost in the conference finals last season, the Celtics currently look like a team that has lost its cohesiveness. The Celtics have a healthy Irving and Hayward, who were injured and missed the playoffs, but they look nothing like last season’s team.
“We’re not playing with the same personality that we did last year, and that’s the easy way to describe it, and the 50,000 issues are below that,” Stevens said. “I just don’t know that we’re that good. Maybe it’s not a wake-up call if you keep getting beat.”
Boston cut its deficit to 110-106 on a 3-pointer by Hayward, but Burke hit a jumper with 50 seconds to play. Burke added a 3-pointer to make it 115-109 with 12 seconds left.
Mitchell Robinson‘s basket with just under five minutes to play pushed New York ahead 103-87 and sent a good number of fans to the exits, some of whom voiced their displeasure before leaving by booing.
“In order to be considered a special team, you have to earn it,” Irving said.
Hardaway felt the Knicks have something to build on.
“We’re 5-14. We’ve still got a lot of learning to do,” he said. “We’ll go and look at film on Friday. But everybody should go home with a smile on their face and eat good tomorrow, you know, because we got a win.”
Leading by 16 at the half, the Knicks had their lead cut to 10 four times in the third quarter, but Boston was unable to reduce it to single digits.
“Effort. They stuck with it. Young fellas on a back-to-back, in a hostile environment,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “Just played extremely hard and played through a lot of adversity. Thank goodness that clock ran out.”
The Celtics started hearing boos from the home crowd midway through the second quarter and the boos became louder when they fell behind by 20 points, 46-26.
“Tomorrow might be a good day for us to reflect a little bit,” Hayward said.
New York built its lead to 57-31 on Kanter’s reverse layup before heading to the locker room with a 65-49 edge at halftime.
Knicks: Fizdale started Emmanuel Mudiay and Hardaway in the backcourt, saying: “They’re starting to play with some good chemistry. I’m happy with the pace.” … They shot 65 percent (15-of-23) in the second quarter.
Celtics: Horford started after he was listed as probable because of a sore left knee. He went to the locker room briefly in the second quarter. … Boston missed its initial 10 3-point attempts and 14 of its first 15.
STAYING THE SAME
Fizdale decided to use the same starting lineup as Tuesday night, because his team “got off to a good start” despite a loss to Portland at Madison Square Garden.
New York got off to a quick start again Wednesday, opening a 25-14 lead late in the opening quarter.
Stevens was asked about the play of two of his players before the game and turned it into how his team needs to improve and play more consistently.
“It’s not about what you do on one day right now,” he said. “It’s about how can you piece things together and go and go and go and go. As a team, that’s what we’re all searching for.”
Knicks: Host the Pelicans on Friday. They lost in the only meeting between the teams this season, in New Orleans on Nov. 16.
Celtics: At the Hawks on Friday, the first of a three-game road trip.