CELTICS 102 KNICKS 96 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
On Monday night, Boston marched into Madison Square Garden and snatched a road win over the Atlantic Division leading Knicks 102-96. The Celtics found a way to earn the victory without Rajon Rondo in the lineup due to a one-game suspension for bumping a referee and not cooperating with an NBA investigation.
Paul Pierce drilled a clutch step-back jumper over the outstretched arms of Tyson Chandler with 40 seconds remaining in the game. After the bucket, Pierce blew a kiss to The Garden crowd while the Celtics recorded their third straight win.
For three quarters, New York and Boston played a relatively normal regular season game without the expected drama from two division rivals.
Of course that was until Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett started jawing back-and-forth early in the fourth quarter. The two players received technical fouls at the 9:03 mark while Boston held an 82-78 lead. Anthony then raced down the floor for a 3-pointer to trim the advantage to one point. Jason Kidd jumped the passing lane and finished an open floor layup. J.R. Smith hit a 3-ball out of a Knicks timeout two minutes later and that was as close as the home team would get to Boston late in the game.
The third quarter was crucial in this contest as Boston put together a momentum changing 12-4 run over a four-minute time span to build a 74-68 lead. The Celtics held New York to just 16 points in the third frame and took a four-point lead into the final quarter.
Smith finished with a game-high 24 points, Anthony scored 20, and Chandler registered a double-double with 13 points and 17 boards.
“Celtics were very good defensively, but we came out ready for the game, prepared. They were more aggressive than we were, back and forth until end of third quarter and then we gave up a lot of turnovers, and they hit a few good shots. They hit some very tough shots, Paul Pierce hit shots with our guys in his face. We have to execute better offensively.” -- head coach Mike Woodson
The sixth man tallied 24 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the floor and he hit 4-of-9 shots from downtown. Smith also dished out four assists and recorded two steals.
The Celtics outscored the Knicks 40-28 in the paint but New York managed to post 24 fast break points in the defeat.
The Knicks return to MSG Training Center on Tuesday afternoon for a practice session and will have another day to prepare for the Pacers on Wednesday before heading out to Indiana the following day.