Two of the oldest NBA franchises put on a show at one of the greatest basketball arenas in the world with some extra basketball. That's what dreams are made of.
The season-opener for the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, at Madison Square Garden, needed two extra periods of basketball to decide a winner. In the end, the Knicks came out on top as they outlasted the Celtics 138-134.
The back-and-forth contest, with 11 lead changes and 10 ties, had the Garden buzzing and even had basketball greats like LeBron James and Sue Bird reacting on Twitter.
This game is wild!! The garden rocking! No way anybody gone be able to get out the bed tomorrow though! Lol. Burnt 🥵 toast- LeBron James (@KingJames) October 21, 2021
This gammmmeeeeee 🤩 #KnicksTape- Sue Bird (@S10Bird) October 21, 2021
While entertaining the crowd, the players and the game set and broke plenty of records.
It's not often you see an overtime game on opening night, let alone double-overtime. In fact, this is the NBA's first double-overtime opening-night game since 2006 when the Knicks and Grizzlies battled in triple-overtime.
Towards the end of regulation, the Celtics came back from 11 down with 3:38 left to force overtime on the back of a Marcus Smart 3-pointer at the buzzer.
🚨 SMART TIES IT AT THE BUZZER 🚨 pic.twitter.com/6chTzMCLYq- Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 21, 2021
In overtime, both teams were red-hot early on - scoring 21 of the 24 points from beyond the arc - but neither scored for the final 2:58 which forced double-overtime.
The combined 272 points by both teams is the second-most in the first game of a season in NBA history.
Jaylen Brown's masterpiece
It was a rough season-opener for Jayson Tatum, who shot 7-of-30 from the field including 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. With the Celtics missing Al Horford due to health and safety protocols, someone had to step-up.
Jaylen Brown put his hand up and he went off in a performance for the record books. He erupted for 46 points, which is not only a career-high but also the most points scored by a Celtics player on opening night.
He started the game with a bang, scoring 20 of his points tally in the first quarter on an incredible 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Late in the game, his clutch three from the logo was key to the C's comeback.
JAYLEN FROM DEEEEEEP pic.twitter.com/OxFnZsgz1h- Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 21, 2021
And what's extraordinary about Brown's performance, he did this just over 12 days after contracting COVID-19.
"My breathing felt irregular, but fine for the most part," Brown said postgame. "Toward the end, I could feel my heart beating through my chest … The adrenaline kind of took over."
He played a total of 46 minutes and also recorded nine rebounds, six assists and three steals while knocking down eight 3-pointers.
Evan Fournier and Julius Randle
The Knicks fell behind early, including their largest deficit of 12 in the first half. They didn't fall behind by much due to Julius Randle's heavy lifting.
The reigning Most Improved Player of the Year scored 22 of his team-high 35 in the first half. At the final buzzer, he nearly recorded a triple-double by also putting up nine assists and eight rebounds.
"He gives you everything he has," Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said postgame. "He had that monster year last year, got a new contract…And he's hungrier now than he was last year, which I thought was impossible."
Despite Randle's performance, the Knicks probably wouldn't have won this without Evan Fournier - their big offseason free agency signing. The Frenchman scored 32 points, the most by a player for the Knicks on debut, with 12 of those coming in the overtime periods.
The duo led the Knicks' balanced scoring of six double-digit scorers while the Celtics had seven.
Both teams would need some time to recover from this one but neither have a lot on their hands. Both have just one day off before their next games.
The Knicks travel to Orlando to face the Magic while the Celtics travel home to host the Raptors.
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