A five-point swing off a Jalen Brunson flopping technical foul benefited the Celtics and ignited their fourth-quarter comeback.
The NBA Referees, through their X (formerly Twitter) account, admitted their costly mistake.
“We missed the foot-to-foot contact, which should have resulted in a personal foul and reviewed for flagrant. Had no foot-to-foot contact existed, this type of secondary and theatrical movement by Brunson would meet the criteria for a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul for flopping. It is possible to have a foul and a flop on the same play, but the foot-to-foot contact is what causes Brunson’s movement and no flop should have been called,” the NBA Referees’ X post said.
Had the call been reversed, Brunson would have been awarded with three free throws instead. But what happened was Tatum sank two free throws — one off the technical foul, and a split off a pair for a common foul — which tied the game at 88-88 with 6:40 left.
An Immanuel Quickley floater momentarily brought the Knicks back to the driver’s seat. Then the Celtics outscored the Knicks 20-16 the rest of the way, starring former Knick Kristaps Porzingis.
Kristaps Porzingis Relishes Beating Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis dropped 30 points, eight rebounds and four blocks to beat his former team.
“It’s an awesome feeling to come back, now being a Celtic, and play here,” Porzingis told reporters via NBC Boston. “Even getting booed and getting all that, it’s still cool. I really like that and enjoy that.”
Relishing his villain role, Porzingis haunted the Knicks, especially in the fourth quarter. Fueled by the “F**k Porzingis” chants, the Latvian scored nine of the Celtics’ last 11 points to escape with the road victory on his debut with his new team.
“Of course here, if you’re not with New York, you’re the enemy,” Porzingis told reporters via NBC Boston. “I understand that part completely. “I miss this place and I wish nothing but the best for this organization.”
Porzingis, the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, earned his lone All-Star berth with the Knicks in 2018. But his messy exit in 2019 (he was traded to Dallas) made him a Garden villain.
Julius Randle Reacts to Trade Rumors
Julius Randle finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. But he only shot 5-of-22 in his first official game since his offseason ankle surgery.
His play this season will be under the microscope as rumors swirl around that he’s included in a potential package for Joel Embiid should the Philadelphia 76ers superstar become available.
“We’ve been in every one since I’ve been here, good or bad,” Randle said via Newsday’s Steve Popper. “It’s always a rumor.”
A day before their opening night to the Celtics, a Philadelphia Inquirer report named him, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Evan Fournier as the potential trade baits for the Knicks in their pursuit of Embiid.
“A trio from that group would be paired with two or three first-round picks,” Philadelphia Inquirer’s 76ers beat reporter Keith Pompey reported.