NEW YORK — After the Boston Celtics set a franchise record with 27 made 3-pointers in a 133-118 win here at Madison Square Garden over the New York Knicks, Celtics guard Marcus Smart called the team’s offense “a thing of beauty.”
“It felt amazing,” Smart said. “(Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla) was just preaching to us, ‘Don’t get tired, we’re playing the right way.’ I think every coach preaches that, but to see it actually happen in action is a thing of beauty.
“It’s good for us. It felt good for guys to hit shots, felt good for the team to see how we play when we play that way and the things we can do, so we have to keep preaching that, we have to keep working .”
It’s easy to see why Smart was excited about this one, a performance where Boston finished with 30 assists on 47 made baskets, shot over 53 percent from the field and went 27-for-41 from 3-point range.
Smart himself had 11 of those assists compared to just one turnover, as Boston immediately jumped out to an early lead by scoring 15 points in the first 4 minutes and never cooled off afterward.
“That’s a lot of threes,” said Knicks guard RJ Barrett, who scored 27 points for New York (4-5). “Sometimes a team gets hot. Tough to beat 27 threes, but we still fought all the way through. Nothing we can do about that one.”
The Celtics, who were led by Jaylen Brown’s 30 points, did express some frustration from their defense, which as Barrett said, prevented Boston from breaking the open game earlier than it could have, considering how well the Celtics shot the ball.
But playing without Al Horford (back) and Luke Kornet (personal reasons) and with Robert Williams still sidelined from offseason knee surgery, the Celtics were pleased with the way they responded on the second night of a back-to-back.
They did so, in part, because of the play of forward Sam Hauser off the bench, who hit 5 3-pointers and scored 17 points — both career-highs — in 21 minutes.
Hauser, who was given a full contract with Boston this offseason after playing last year on a two-way deal, has quickly earned the role that was potentially earmarked for Danilo Gallinari before he tore his ACL this summer playing for Italy, and showed why with his ability to stretch the floor Saturday night.
“Once you get the first couple to go it opens it up a little bit,” Hauser said. “Yeah I definitely had a lot of confidence tonight and I think I’m getting my feet under me and getting more comfortable knowing these guys and where I’m supposed to be. So I’m just going to keep playing off them and doing my part.”
Before the game, Williams said he’s progressing in his recovery, and that’s he’s back on the court doing work again as he continues working his way back from surgery in September. And while Boston has more than held serve without their defensive anchor to begin the season, they are excited about having him back around the team again — and even more about getting him back on the floor.
“We’re just going to be that much better of a team,” Jayson Tatum said. “That’s how important Rob is to our group. Can’t stress enough how important he is on the offensive end, defensive end, his presence, lob threat, protecting the rim. Obviously his ability to pass the ball. Obviously we miss him but we don’t want to rush him back because we want him when it matters most.”