KNICKS 118 CELTICS 110 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
After a first quarter that featured extended scoring runs by both teams, the Knicks unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers in a impressive 118-110 victory at MSG.
J.R. Smith ignited the fuse with a long bomb at the 1:20 mark to hand New York the lead back 27-26. The Knicks received 12 first quarter points from Carmelo Anthony while the team reeled off 15 field goals on nine assists during an 18-0 run over the first and second periods. With a 40-26 advantage, New York was finding open shooters all over the floor against an uncharacteristically poor Celtics defense.
Smith, Steve Novak, and Anthony were delighted to feast on Boston’s lack of defensive pressure throughout the first half. In fact, New York set a record by connecting on 14-of-21 3-point attempts in the first 2 quarters. Five different Knicks hit shots beyond the arc and Smith’s seven 3-pointers tied a franchise record held by Shawn Williams and John Starks. Inside the 3-point line, New York was just as efficient by sinking 26-of-41 from the floor on a Boston team that only allowed 41.6 percent heading into the contest.
The Knicks lead ballooned to 19 points at halftime as Anthony, Smith, and Novak combined for 53 of New York’s 72 first half points. With Ray Allen, sidelined, Avery Bradley started once again for the Celtics and posted 14 in the first half.
Over the next 24 minutes, Boston put together a couple of mini-runs and even cut the Knicks lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter. Paul Pierce was dominant in the second half with 31 of his game-high and career-high 43 points. However, New York remained resilient and avoided a monumental collapse on several key possessions down the stretch.
Tyson Chandler tipped out an errant Knicks shot that landed in Anthony’s hands and he sent a bullet cross court pass to Novak for a 3-pointer to provide the home team with a 115-106 lead at the 2:25 mark. Another Novak shot from downtown seconds later sealed the deal for the Knicks as they improved to 32-29 on the season.
“It took a lot to beat these guys. They never quit. We got off to a great start. Guys made shots. WE got a big lead but they never let up. Paul [Pierce] played phenomenal to keep the in it. Our bench played phenomenal tonight. When they get hot like that it is hard to beat us.” -- Carmelo Anthony
Anthony is simply unguardable in the month of April. Just days after dropping 42 on the Heat’s stifling defense, the All-Star posted a triple-double against the Celtics top ranked unit. In 40 minutes of action, Anthony shot 13-of-24 from the floor, 2-of-4 beyond the arc, and 7-for-8 at the charity stripe. When Boston’s defense collapsed, he found open shooters on the perimeter for 10 dimes. Anthony also grabbed 12 boards in helping New York win the battle on the glass 36-26.
Smith scored 25 points on 7-for-10 shots from the 3-point line. Novak added another 25 off the bench, flashing his now famous, “Discount Double Check” after eight successful 3-pointers. The two players helped New York crush Boston’s bench 55-2. Chandler was also a key component to the big win, considering he scored 20 points and snatched seven boards.
Where to start? The Knicks tied an NBA record for most 3-pointers in a half, tied a franchise record second most in franchise history, and Smith’s seven 3-pointers in the first half tied a Knicks all-time record. New York finished 19-of-32 from the arc, an incredible 59.4 percent for the game.
State of the Playoffs:
New York now owns a one game lead on the Sixers in the seventh spot while holding the tiebreaker if the two teams finish with the same record at the end of the season. The victory also increased the Knicks lead to 2.5 games over Milwaukee.
News and Notes:
Amar’e Stoudemire is close to returning to the floor as Woodson told reporters the big man could suit up against Cleveland or Atlanta if he does not suffer any setbacks this week.
The Knicks will head to New Jersey tomorrow night for a tilt against the Nets without Deron Williams in the lineup.