The rookies stepped up as the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics 120-114.
The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics squared off in a marquee matchup Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The rivalry was in full effect as the game went down to the wire with both teams neck-in-neck in the fourth quarter.
Knicks All Star Carmelo Anthony injured his ankle after stepping on the foot of a referee at the end of the first half. As a result, he couldn’t continue the game for the second half, which seemed like an ominous sign for the team.
However, the Knicks were able to pull out a very gritty victory against a great defensive team in the Boston Celtics. Kristaps Porzingis a very efficient game, recording 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots
Unfortunately, he fouled out of the game midway into the fourth quarter on a contested 3-point attempt by Celtics forward Jae Crowder.
Arron Afflao became the go to scorer and carried the Knicks in crucial moments of the game. While Afflalo may have stepped up, it was point guard Jerian Grant who was the unlikely hero.
Grant’s spark off the bench was key in the team’s impressive victory.
Grant has been struggling to find any kind of rhythm and consistency so far this season, and recently struggled to receive minutes. He’s played well over the past few games, however, and his performance against the rival Celtics was one of his best as an NBA player.
He recorded 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting and dished out eight assists in 23 minutes of action. According to Kevin Kernan of The New York Post, Grant commented on his own performance and confidence.
"“The coaches put the ball in my hands and gave me confidence leaving me in during the fourth quarter and told me to control the game,” said Grant. “I was able to get into the lane, I was able to knock down a couple of shots and I was able to find my teammates.”"
It’s best to say that Grant has only shown flashes of his potential as the future point guard for the New York Knicks, but he stepped up when he needed to most after Anthony went down with an injury and Porzingis fouled out. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Anthony praised the rookie point guard on how his impact on the game propelled them to victory.
"“Big minutes,” said Anthony of Grant. “He stepped up big time and controlled our team. He made big plays and was a big part of why we won the game.”"
Porzingis also said that he was very proud of his fellow rookie teammate, per Berman.
"“He was very clutch,” Porzingis said. “He’s been waiting for this moment. I’m extremely happy for him and what he did for us tonight.”"
Since Porzingis’ rise to fame in New York and the NBA, Grant has been overshadowed—both literally and figuratively. Last night wasn’t one of those instances.
Grant has shown that he can be a valuable player to the club, starting with his impressive outing in the NBA Summer League.
He was the 19th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, and the Knicks traded Tim Hardaway Jr. to take a chance on the 6-foot-5 point guard coming out of Notre Dame. The future looks bright if Grant learns how to be consistent night-in and night-out.
Grant stepped up when he was needed most, and that’s big time.