BOSTON (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 39 points in three quarters and the New York Knicks kept up their quest to finish with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the Boston Celtics 118-109 on Thursday night.

One day after clinching a playoff spot, the Knicks pulled within a game of the Milwaukee Bucks for second, with each team having two games remaining. New York would have to win both and have the Bucks lose their games at Oklahoma City and Orlando, because Milwaukee has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Brunson shot 15 of 23 from the field and 6 of 11 from 3-point range. Backcourt mate Donte DiVincenzo had 17 points and Josh Hart finished with 16. New York also received a lift off the bench from its primary acquisition at the trade deadline, as Bojan Bogdanovic had 14 points.

Jayson Tatum scored 18 points for Boston. Payton Pritchard had 16 points off the bench and Jaylen Brown and Sam Hauser each had 15.

Despite having already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Celtics took the court with their top eight players. With the Knicks up 29, Boston coach Joe Mazzulla opened the fourth quarter with a unit entirely of reserves. Brunson’s night was also done with one quarter to spare as New York denied Boston’s bid of a season sweep of its Atlantic Division rival.

The Celtics shot 11 of 19 overall and 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, yet trailed 32-29 after one quarter. Hart set the tone for a productive opening quarter for the Knicks, who at one point were shooting 69% from the field.

New York was ahead 47-45 in the second quarter before ripping off 17 straight points as part of a half-closing 22-3 run over the final 6 1/2 minutes that made it 69-48 at the break.

Brunson helped the Knicks extend their lead to as high as 31 points as the All-Star guard turned it up several notches in the third quarter, piling up 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.


Knicks: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

Celtics: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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