Balanced attack leads the Celtics past the Knicks, 100-91

The Celtics were going for their fourth straight win tonight against the New York Knicks in Boston, but that wasn't even the biggest story. The return of guard Marcus Smart was the biggest story, and he had a small impact in a 100-91 victory over Carmelo Anthony and crew.

Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder willed the C's past the Knicks. Crowder (18 pts, 6 reb) had a 13 point third quarter which kept Boston's lead in double digits heading into the final period, and Thomas (21 pts, 8 reb, 6 asts) came up big in the clutch to secure the W in the fourth.

The Knicks were led by their star forward. Anthony (29 pts, 10 reb) almost surged New York back into the game, but couldn't finish the job. He was supported by Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis (16 pts, 12 reb, 3 blk) and Derrick Williams (10 pts, 4 reb) off the bench. Porzingis supplied big stops in the first half, but was relatively quiet in the second half and Williams pushed the Knicks to within 5 points in the fourth quarter, but couldn't complete the comeback.

Game notes:

- Marcus Smart's (6 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast) return could change the C's offense from the bench. Quickly hitting his first bucket in over a month, Smart looked confident even with a great deal of rust. He finished 1/2 from three point range.

- Celtics have won 4 straight games and continue to dominate on the second night of back-to-backs.

- Evan Turner shot lights out (8/11 from the floor), continuing to earn all of his minutes off the bench.

See below for updates from during the game:

First Quarter

Jae Crowder opened up the scoring with a three from the wing which gave the C's a 3-0 lead. Avery Bradley then took on the role of the scorer, hitting two deep 2-point shots to put Boston up 7-4. Boston struggled shooting from the floor through the first 6 minutes, though, only putting up 9 points through the first half of the first quarter.

After a Knicks timeout, Sullinger took it straight to the rack but got rejected by New York rookie, Kristaps Porzingis. Sullinger tracked down the rebound and found Olynyk who cut in for an up-and-under basket giving the C's a 12-10 lead. Next possession, Bradley cut straight through the lane for an easy layup for his sixth point.

Then, Crowder tried to put Porzingis on a poster but was called for an offensive foul. Porzingis immediately went to the bench seeming to be in a good deal of pain. 16-14 Knicks.

Marcus Smart comes into the game after a Celtics timeout, this being his first appearance after missing the last 18 games. He immediately made an impact, nailing a running floater less than a minute after being subbed in. Game tied 18 a piece.

Smart continued to push the pace leading the C's to a 22-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

Porzingis returned to the game after going to the bench hurting in the first and tallied another block on an Olynyk layup attempt to start the second. This spurred a New York 4-point run to tie the game at 22 before RJ Hunter drew a foul and hit 1/2 free throws. Evan Turner then made a smooth reverse layup to push the C's lead to three on the assist from Jonas Jerebko. 27-24 Celtics.

Coming out of the media timeout, neither team could find the bottom of the net. Turner finally sliced through the Knicks D and flipped it up for two about a minute later. Carmelo Anthony answered back with a quick two on the other end.

Then the C's run began. Led by Isaiah Thomas, Boston strung together an 18-6 run over the course of four minutes. The run was punctuated by a transition slam supplied by Amir Johnson with the feed from Thomas ahead of the defense. Thomas snagged 5 points and 2 assists during the run including this one leading to a New York timeout:
The Knicks didn't want to end the half quietly, though, and scored 6 unanswered points coming out of their timeout. 47-38 Celtics.

The half ended with the Celtics holding a 10 point lead over the Knicks, 51-41 Boston. Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 14 points, and Isaiah Thomas was just behind him with 12.

Third Quarter

The Knicks stuck around throughout the quarter, staying within 10 for most of the period, but Jae Crowder didn't let 'melo and crew claw back. Crowder posted 13 points in the third with two three pointers.

The period also featured vintage Evan Turner:
Boston had 4 players with double figures in scoring by the end of the third:

Fourth Quarter

Boston continued their defense over the Knicks to start the quarter, but the story of the first two minutes was Celtics' three point shooting. Marcus Smart started the scoring for the C's, drilling a three from the left side, then Evan Turner followed with another three-point bomb from the right corner.

The Knicks were resilient, though, and with 8:12 left in the fourth Derrick Williams converted a three-point-play to bring New York within 9. Williams then continued to create problems for Boston by scoring 5 straight points for the Knicks. 85-78 Boston.

Thomas and Turner wouldn't have it though. Isaiah worked his way to the line where he hit 1/2 and Turner carved into the lane converting a crafty bucket in traffic.

This game wasn't over yet, though. Anthony drilled a wide open three bringing the Knicks to within 5 points with under 6 minutes left in the game.
Still a 5-point-game with 4 minutes to go, Knicks ball. The Celtics being outscored 20-13 at this point. Then big Isaiah Thomas decided to take over. A layup high off the glass falls for Isaiah to make it a 7 point game with 3:00 to go, and then another transition bucket for the 5'9" guard increased the lead to 9 for Boston. Knicks timeout, 94-85 Boston.
Coming out of the timeout, Porzingis hit a two, but Isaiah would draw the foul on the rookie and hit both free throws. Thomas had scored the last 6 points for Boston.

Under 1:30 left in regulation, the C's trying to secure the victory, Thomas went for the layup but missed off the backboard. Tracked down his own shot, passes it out to Olynyk who is forced to launch a deep three as the shot clock hadn't reset, and Isaiah grabbed that rebound as well. The Knicks then fouled Thomas and that would be it.

A few more possessions, but the C's secured the victory. Final score: 100-91 Boston.

Topher Lane is on Twitter, @Topher_L and hated watching the game on MSG. Photo credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images