NEW YORK — With so much new for Kemba Walker this season, it sure helped to have some familiar feelings.
Once he finished with another big night at Madison Square Garden, it was Tacko time.
Walker scored a season-high 32 points, snapping out of an early season shooting slump with seven 3-pointers, and the Boston Celtics beat the winless New York Knicks 118-95 on Saturday night.
Walker began his Celtics career by going 4 for 18 in an opening loss to Philadelphia, and even with a strong finish against the Raptors was only 8 for 22. But the New York native and former UConn star thrived again at Madison Square Garden, going 11 for 17 overall and 7 for 12 behind the arc.
“It’s great energy in here,” Walker said. “I’m from here, I’ve been playing here since I was in high school, so it’s just always good to come back.”
Jaylen Brown added 19 points for the Celtics, who won their second straight after beating NBA champion Toronto on Friday. Jayson Tatum had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Boston broke open a close game so thoroughly in the fourth quarter that 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall was able to make his NBA debut, scoring four points on a pair of loudly cheered dunks that required barely any jumping.
“It was unbelievable,” Fall said. “All throughout the game I didn’t know it was going to happen. Once the score kept going up, I was thinking in my mind this might be go time.”
Rookie RJ Barrett scored 26 points for the Knicks, who were outscored 72-44 after halftime in their home opener and fell to 0-3. Mitchell Robinson added 17.
“That was an embarrassing second half,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said.
New York raced to an early lead and trailed only by six after three, but the Celtics scored the first eight points of the final period to make it 90-76. The Celtics then put it away with a 19-4 surge, featuring three straight baskets by Walker, to expand it to 109-85.
“It’s a new team, new situation for me,” said Walker, who had played his entire career in Charlotte. “But tonight in the second half, yeah, I felt great.”
The Celtics had a six-point lead with 5 minutes remaining in the half, but the Knicks outscored them 16-5 the rest of the way to bring a 51-46 advantage with them into the locker room.
Jazz rout Kings
In Salt Lake City, Bojan Bogdanovic hit five 3-pointers and scored 26 points, powering the Utah Jazz to a 113-81 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
Donovan Mitchell added 15 points, while Mike Conley chipped in 12 points and eight assists. Georges Niang added 12 points off the bench. Utah shot 48.6% from 3-point range.
Dwayne Dedmon scored 11 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 10 for the Kings, who failed to overcome 37% shooting from the field.
The teams combined for 39 turnovers.
Sacramento coach Luke Walton pulled all of his starters at once with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter after the Kings fell behind by 32 points. Only Dwayne Dedmon returned in the fourth quarter.
Bojan Bogdanovic, who missed a game due to an ankle injury, was a game-time decision. Once he hit the court, he wasted no time torching Sacramento’s defense. He scored three straight baskets to ignite a 16-2 run in the first quarter. He punctuated the run with his first 3-point basket, giving the Jazz an 18-8 lead.
Sacramento cut the deficit to five points on four occasions during the quarter — the final time on Nemanja Bjelica’s layup that made it 28-23. The Jazz offense smothered the Kings after that and steadily pulled away.
Jeff Green hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend Utah’s lead to 46-33 early in the second quarter and the Jazz maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The Jazz used a 19-2 run, spanning the second and third quarters, to take a 75-43 lead. Bojan Bogdanovic, Mitchell, and Conley all hit 3-pointers to fuel the run, which prompted Walton to sub out his entire starting lineup.