Despite a game-high 29 points from Carmelo Anthony, Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics won their fourth in a row Sunday, taking down the visiting New York Knicks 100-91.

Thomas finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The C’s welcomed back Marcus Smart following an 18-game absence.

Per the Boston Herald:

But if you’re looking for a clue as to how important Smart is to the production, know that even on this comeback evening when his minutes were going to be limited, Brad Stevens pulled him a bit early because he wanted to have him at his disposal later on. The coach wasn’t going to hesitate to rely on someone who hadn’t been in a game since Nov. 20 when this affair was on the line. […] “I wanted to keep him for the end of the game in case we needed him for defensive possessions,” Stevens said.

 

Smart’s return to the parquet last night was his 10th appearance of the season — in the Celtics’ 31st game. He played in 67 in his rookie year, but let’s hold off on the Clay Buchholz references, eh? Marcus Smart gets hurt because he tries to run through proverbial walls and real picks set by larger men.

 

Later last night, Stevens was asked if it is possible to overestimate what the 6-foot-4, 220-pound strong safety of a point guard means to this operation. […] “Near and long term, right? Yeah, there’s no question,” Stevens said. “He’s got to continue to improve. He’s got to continue to work hard. And the thing that you love about him is that he’s all about playing 12 minutes to get his wind back; he’s all about doing whatever the team needs so he can help us win. Ultimately he’s a really important part of us.”