By Jack Bantock, CNN
The New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett sunk a breathtaking three-point buzzer beater to complete a dramatic turnaround against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Having trailed by 25 points with just under four minutes of the second quarter remaining, a roaring second half from the hosts teed up a grandstand finish — Barrett banking an off-balance three-pointer at the death to seal a 108-105 comeback victory and spark euphoria at Madison Square Garden.
Though Barrett’s heroics will understandably dominate headlines, his crowning moment was only made possible by a devastating performance from Knicks guard Evan Fournier — whose career-high 41 points drove the second half resurgence.
The Frenchman sunk 10 three-pointers from 14 attempts as the Knicks outscored the visitors 61-42 in the second half, wrestling the game-high points total from the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum.
Tatum scored a team-high 36 points to go with nine assists — 16 points clear of his closest teammate Dennis Schroder — including a game-tying shot in the final seconds that had looked set to send the game into overtime.
Yet the subsequent buzzer beater by Barrett — cruelly looped over the outstretched arm of Tatum — denied the Celtics small forward the opportunity to drag his team over the line.
‘I didn’t even see it go in’
Though Barrett admitted after the game that Tatum’s six-foot-eight-inch frame made his shot more difficult, he never had any doubts about missing the target.
“It was definitely a tougher shot — Jayson’s so tall — but every time I shoot, I think it’s going in,” Barrett told reporters.
“It was crazy. I didn’t even really see it because I fell, I didn’t even see it go in, but just from everybody else’s reaction I could tell, so that was cool.”
Having arrived at Madison Square Garden with identical records, victory sees the Knicks leapfrog the Celtics to 19-20 on the season.
Though pleased by the character of the fightback, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is keen to avoid his team requiring such dramatic resurgences every week.
“We dug ourselves a big hole,” Thibodeau told reporters after the game.
“We started off slowly, low energy, and you can’t do that … we’re not going to be perfect, we’ll make mistakes but we can play hard — there’s no substitute for hustle.”
No Steph, no party
Elsewhere in the NBA, the depleted Golden State Warriors (29-9) suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season after a shock 101-96 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans (14-25).
Having fallen to the Dallas Mavericks (20-18) on Wednesday, the Warriors — hampered by the absence of three-point king Steph Curry — limped to another defeat to fall behind the Phoenix Suns (30-8) at the summit of the Western Conference.
New Orleans were buoyed by an impressive performance by Brandon Ingram, who led scoring with 32 points.
Meanwhile, the Suns made light work of the Los Angeles Clippers (19-20), with Cameron Johnson scoring 24 points as the Western Conference leaders cruised to a 106-89 victory.
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