LAS VEGAS — Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye is starting to make his name as an emerging young defensive stopper. He played a lot on LeBron James during the playoffs.
This was a bit less of a task, but the 23-year-old muffled 6-foot-9 Knicks lottery pick Kevin Knox, stalling his summer-league scoring rampage.
After racking up 29 points versus the Lakers, Knox was held to just 15 points Thursday in a loss to the Celtics, shooting 5-of-20 overall and 2-of-7 from 3-point range and committing five turnovers, including a charge against Ojeleye.
Clearly, the hype train following Knox has drawn the attention of guys like Ojeleye.
“He’s a great player,’’ Ojeleye said. “You always want to play against those guys. I knew if we were going to win, we had to make it tough on him. And he missed a couple of shots.’’
Indeed, it looked like Knox had tired legs. The Knicks have one game left Friday in the loser’s bracket, and it wouldn’t be a shock if they shut Knox down. The Knicks didn’t make a coach — or Knox — available after the game.
“I just wanted be physical, make everything tough on him,’’ said Ojeleye, who racked up 21 points of his own. “You make him work, but he hit some tough shots. The more he had to work it wore on him a bit.”
Knox didn’t get to the basket or draw fouls as often as he did in the first three games. Though he had one spectacular drive through three Celtics for a layup, Boston didn’t allow him any highlight-reel dunks. He was just 3-of-4 from the free-throw line and collected three rebounds and three assists.
Knox, the ninth-overall pick in the draft, came into the game averaging 23.3 points, numbers that had scouts drooling over his All-Star potential as an 18-year-old.
Luke Kornet who signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal to be on the 15-man roster, also made his 2018 summer-league debut after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury. He had seven points (3-of-8 shooting) and three rebounds, starting alongside rookie Mitchell Robinson.