NEW YORK (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points in just 24 minutes and the Boston Celtics remained atop the Eastern Conference with their 50th victory, beating the New York Knicks 110-94 on Sunday.
Jaylen Brown added 16 for the Celtics, who will be no worse than tied with Cleveland for the best record in the East when they host the defending NBA champions on Wednesday. Boston is off until that showdown, while the Cavaliers were set to play two games in between.
Boston secured its first 50-win season since going 56-26 in 2010-11 and did it easily, shooting 55.6 percent and getting 14 points apiece from Marcus Smart and Al Horford.
Courtney Lee scored 16 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 14 for the Knicks, who announced during the game that Derrick Rose will have season-ending surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. They also played without Carmelo Anthony (sore lower back).
Boston had little trouble with the Knicks who remained. The Celtics never trailed, shot 60 percent in a 60-point first half and led by as many as 27 points.
They had some easy dunks while cruising through the fourth quarter, when a loud “Let’s go Celtics!” chant broke out in the final minutes.
Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said he texted Sunday with ailing guard Avery Bradley, who said he was feeling better. “All signs point to him practicing Tuesday with us,” Stevens said. … Jae Crowder left in the second half with a sore left elbow. X-rays were negative.
Knicks: Anthony missed his second straight game. … The Knicks welcomed back coach Jeff Van Gundy and a few players from their 1999 Eastern Conference championship team during a first-half tribute on the court.
Rose’s injury news was a surprising but all too familiar ending to his first season in New York. Coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game he thought Rose could play again this season. Instead, it’s another summer when Rose will be rehabbing from knee surgery — and this one comes as he heads into free agency.
Former Gonzaga All-American Kelly Olynyk was hoping to join his many former teammates who are already at the Final Four for Monday’s national championship game, but figures it will be difficult. He watched Saturday’s victory at a bar in New York and his excitement was obvious to anyone following his Twitter feed.
“I was juiced. I was really juiced,” he said. “Juiced up — not juiced. For the record, I was not drinking. I was really excited about things that that team was doing at the moment.”
Celtics: Host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, trying to sweep the season series for the first time since 1999-00.
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