Immanuel Quickley, in for Jalen Brunson, has 38 as Knicks' streak hits 9

BOSTON -- As the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics trudged back onto the court at TD Garden for a second overtime session, Immanuel Quickley -- who had already surpassed 50 minutes on the night -- turned to Julius Randle.

"Sunday [night], in TD Garden, it don't get better than that," Quickley said with a smile. "I was telling [Julius] that before the second overtime.

"I was like, 'It don't get better than this. We're on national TV in The Garden.' Other than Madison [Square Garden], this is probably my favorite place to play.

"I had a lot of fun."

He certainly did -- and at the expense of the Celtics.

Quickley, who started in place of injured star Jalen Brunson, finished with a remarkable line: 38 points on 15-for-28 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks and 1 turnover in 55 minutes -- a stat line New York (39-27) needed every ounce of as it escaped with a thrilling 131-129 double-overtime victory over the Celtics (45-20).

The win was New York's ninth in a row -- and its second over Boston in the span of seven days.

"Just finding a way to win," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Obviously they've had a great season and they're a great team. We knew we'd have to be at our best for the entire game to have a chance.

"Our guys, every time we got down, we fought back, fought back. We didn't go away. We just found a way to win in the end."

They did so because Quickley had the game of his life, setting career highs in both points and minutes. He was needed for so much of the night because Brunson was ruled out about 90 minutes before tipoff with left foot soreness -- an ailment Thibodeau said Brunson woke up with.

But as the game wore on, Quickley was in the middle of everything good the Knicks did, and he twice brought them back from the brink. The first time was after Al Horford hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, giving the Celtics an 82-70 lead with 4:16 to go in the third.

All the Knicks did was respond with a 30-7 run over the next several minutes of game action into the early part of the fourth quarter, with Quickley either scoring or assisting on 18 of those 30 points.

Then, after New York collapsed at the end of regulation, allowing the Celtics to come back from down seven with 85 seconds to go to force overtime, Quickley stepped up again, scoring four of the five baskets New York had over the two OT periods -- including all three in the second overtime -- and assisting on the other one.

"He was great," said Randle, who had 31 points of his own in 46 minutes. "Quick plays with a lot of joy, a lot of passion. Full of energy.

"Everybody else was getting tired. So it was great."

While everyone else on the court late in the game -- quite understandably -- looked like their legs were stuck in molasses, Quickley was hopping and skipping around the court as though it was the first quarter, repeatedly breaking down the defense.

He claimed, though, that it wasn't quite as easy as it looked.

"That was all adrenaline," Quickley said with a laugh. "I was exhausted."

So, too, were the Celtics. And, with the ball, down two in the dying seconds of double overtime -- and with the shot clock off -- they drew up practically the same shot that briefly put them ahead at the end of the first overtime period: a corner 3-pointer for Horford.

This time, though, Horford's shot -- a wide-open look off a dish from Jayson Tatum -- was short, and the Knicks were able to celebrate a win.

"Oh, it's nothing like it," Quickley said of the mood inside New York's locker room after the game. "It's nothing like it. Everybody's happy. You won a big-time game, Sunday night on national television.

"It don't get better than that. Nine in a row, we got to try to make it 10 [against Charlotte] in two days."

For Boston, meanwhile, it was a third loss in four games, dropping the Celtics 1½ games back in the standings -- and two in the loss column -- behind Milwaukee for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

But after one of the more difficult weeks of the season for the defending East champions -- after the two Knicks losses, giving up a 28-point lead and losing to Brooklyn on Friday night, and narrowly avoiding another large collapse against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday in a win -- Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said his faith in his team hasn't changed.

"Zero," Mazzulla said when asked what his level of concern was.

The Celtics, meanwhile, will be without starting center Robert Williams III for another seven to 10 days after he left Friday's loss to the Nets with tightness in his left hamstring, and head to Cleveland on Monday for the second half of a back-to-back with multiple players unlikely to suit up after playing massive minutes against the Knicks.

"We got to get our groove back," Tatum said, "which I'm confident we will, and get back to being ourselves and playing with that swagger on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes."