BOSTON — No furious comeback or moral victory was going to save the Celtics from themselves on this night.


They were coming off back-to-back losses and playing one of the worst teams in the league in the New York Knicks. That the Celtics were down as many as 26 in the first half was the bigger story than the rally to within three in the final minute of a 117-109 loss Wednesday at TD Garden.


The Celtics were within 11 points, after trailing by as many as 21 in the [...]

BOSTON — No furious comeback or moral victory was going to save the Celtics from themselves on this night.

They were coming off back-to-back losses and playing one of the worst teams in the league in the New York Knicks. That the Celtics were down as many as 26 in the first half was the bigger story than the rally to within three in the final minute of a 117-109 loss Wednesday at TD Garden.

The Celtics were within 11 points, after trailing by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter, out of a timeout with 3:35 to play when a jumper by the Knicks' Tim Hardaway made it 108-95 with 3:20 left. After the Celtics' Marcus Morris hit a second-chance 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game, the Knicks' Trey Burke answered with a mid-range jumper, and Morris hit a second 3-pointerto make it a 110-101 game as the clock wound down to about two minutes.

The Knicks followed with a turnover with 1:53 to play and the Celtics' Jayson Tatum was tied up for a jump ball with 1:40 left. Celtics guard Kyrie Irving scored off the jump ball as Boston drew within seven points with 1:35 left. The Celtics struck again 30 second later as Gordon Hayward drilled a corner 3-pointer to make it a four-point spread.

Burke rattled home a jumper out of a timeout, but Al Horford pulled Boston back within four with two shots from the foul line with 40.3 seconds to play.

On the following Knicks possession, Jaylen Brown stole the ball at midcourt and charged down the lane where he was clobbered with 34.8 seconds to play. On video review, the referees determined Brown had also thrown an elbow and he was given a technical foul on the video review. The Knicks missed the free throw, and Brown hit one of two to make Boston's deficit three points.

Burke sunk the dagger in by hitting a 3-pointer on New York's next possession with 12.0 seconds remaining, giving the Knicks an insurmountable six-point lead.

The Celtics fall to 9-9.

Morris scored 21 points and eight rebounds, Irving scored 22 points with 13 assists, Hayward scored 19 points with seven rebounds, Horford had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Tatum scored 15 for the Celtics.

Down 15 to start the fourth quarter after trailing as many as 26 in the first half, the Celtics were facing a 20-point hole when Kevin Knox hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter for a 90-70 game with 10:18 on the clock.

The Knicks went up as many as 21, but Horford and Hayward hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 92-77 with 9:08 to play. Irving followed a Hardaway basket with a steal, two free throws after a clear-path foul, before Horford’s 3-pointer had Boston within 94-84 with 7:22 to play.

But Burke snapped the 13-2 run with a jumper and Boston was down 96-84 heading into a timeout with 6:39 to play

A Frank Ntilikina basket and Hardaway 3-pointer had Boston back down 16 when Morris hit a turnaround jumper for a 101-87 game with 5:05 left. Mitchell Robinson’s basket made it a 16-point game into a timeout with 4:51 to play.

Tatum’s three-point play out of the pause made it a 103-90 gap, but Hardaway answered with a 3-pointer with 4:14 to go. Irving’s 3-pointer had it 106-93 with 3:54 left and Morris hit a pair of free throws off a loose-ball foul for an 11-point game with 3:34 remaining.

The patience of the notoriously forgiving Celtics fans ran thin in a hurry in the second quarter as a numbing series of missing and defensively lapses helped the Knicks extend an eight-point lead after one quarter to as much as 26 midway through the second.

As Brad Stevens shuffled rotation players in and out of the game frantically trying to get any semblance of energy and cohesion, Hayward provided it late in the half with a pair of steals in the lane that led to baskets, as Boston wound up going on a 16-6 run to end the end for a 65-49 deficit at the break.

Boston got within 11 on an Irving 3-pointer and Irving feed to Brown. The Knicks twice pushed the lead back to 16 when a long Irving jumper and Morris basket got Boston within 72-60 with 4:55 left in the third.

The Celtics cut the gap to 10 three times in the quarter — but could not get within single-digits — before the Knicks closed the quarter on a 5-0 run for an 84-69 lead heading to the fourth.