By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
CELTICS 90, KNICKS 86 | TD GARDEN
How it happened:
Walt Frazier called it "a redemption game." Tyson Chandler implored his teammates to "return the favor" after last Sunday's disastrous defeat at the hands of the Celtics at Madison Square Garden.
But after climbing back from a 17-point first half deficit and jumping out to an 11-point lead in the fourth, the Knicks were unable to hang on, losing to their Atlantic Division rival to fall to 6-16 on the season.
It was a game of runs, at different points both teams appearing to be in control; a hard-fought battle that ended in disappointing fashion for the visitors, who had to be encouraged by a 20-9 run at the end of the first half and a dominant third quarter.
Carmelo Anthony carried the load early on, going for 20 points in the first half as his teammates battled but struggled with their shooting.
As they emerged from halftime, the Knicks' offense continued to click, led by Pablo Prigioni (four assists in the quarter) and Andrea Bargnani (10 of his 22 points in the third). They outscored the Celtics, 25-14, and headed into the final frame looking poised to capture a win and move to within one and a half games of first place.
They had played their game -- dominating the turnover battle, 15-6, and sharing the ball to the tune of 20 assists -- and Boston's attack had come back to earth from the level it showed in last Sunday's affair.
But the Celtics responded in the fourth, at one point rattling off a 10-0 run to get right back in the game. Despite losing Kenyon Martin to an abdominal injury with about nine minutes to play, the Knicks hung tough until the final moments.
With 30 seconds to play and the Knicks down four, Prigioni drove the lane and found Bargnani for the free throw line jumper (Prigioni's eighth assist of the night), cutting Boston's lead to two. But on the ensuing possession, Jeff Green iced the game with a circus shot over two defenders, falling to the floor and drawing the foul in the process.
Knick of the Night:
Amar'e Stoudemire continued his strong play, scoring a season-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and pulling down five rebounds. Perhaps most importantly, he played 30 minutes for the second straight game.
The Knicks have no time to dwell on the loss, as they return home tonight to face the Hawks at MSG tomorrow night.