UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens yearns to utilize each day of the preseason for his team to make strides toward when games truly matter. But some situations are more conducive to progress than others, and the Celtics, playing their fourth game in six days and opting to rest a handful of key players for at least a portion of the game, produced what was probably an expected batch of sloppiness while slogging through a 96-80 loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Oh sure, Stevens would have loved to see his team grind through the final day of an unforgiving stretch. After the team arrived late while battling weekend traffic on a two-hour bus ride from their practice facility in Waltham, Mass., Stevens said it would be good to see if his team could simply throw on their uniforms and go play.

The Celtics, who rested both Kelly Olynyk and Gerald Wallace while limiting some of their key veterans in the second half, were competitive for much of the first half. Things went south in the third quarter when Boston registered only four field goals in the frame — three of them by Marcus Thornton — and the Knicks were able to extend their lead to double digits heading to the final 12 minutes.

By the time training camp invites Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford hit the floor, much of the arena had bailed for more interesting prospects on the gaming floors outside the arena.

Rapid reaction after Boston fell for the second time in two nights:

Nitty Gritty: Thornton and Jared Sullinger each scored a team-high 15 points while carrying Boston’s second-half offense. Thornton was 5-of-15 shooting and only …read more