CELTICS 91 KNICKS 89 | TD GARDEN
How it happened:
The Celtics were salivating at the chance to exact revenge on their home floor after a deflating Christmas Day defeat at Madison Square Garden. In another thrilling game down the stretch, Boston evened the season series with a 91-89 victory on Saturday night.
With the score stuck on 79-79 for what seemed like an eternity, the Celtics snatched the first lead since late in the first quarter with a three-pointer from the long bomb specialist Ray Allen. After grabbing the 82-79 advantage with 4:24 remaining in the game, the Knicks could not re-capture the offensive consistency that helped them control the game for three quarters.
Two big plays just about brought New York a victory as Iman Shumpert found Tyson Chandler for an alley-oop and Landry Fields connected a dunk after a steal on the defensive end to cut the Celtics lead down to 90-89. New York once again had a chance to take a lead but Shumpert missed a three-point attempt. On the opposite side, Paul Pierce hit a miracle three-pointer, only to be waved off by the refs as it was released after the shot clock hit zero.
Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points and he searched for open teammates when the Celtics defense collapsed with the double teams. Unfortunately, Fields missed his three-point attempt and Steve Novak had to force a desperate deep perimeter jumper when they could not get Anthony the rock on the final possession.
Following a physically draining game against Chicago the previous night, New York entered the game hungry for a win when one point separated the two teams at the end of the first period. While Kevin Garnett had a surprising 11-point first quarter, the Knicks kept Rajon Rondo fairly quiet with zero points in the first 10 minutes unlike opening day when he led the team with 31. This is the first time Rondo played in eight games due to a right wrist injury.
Jared Jeffries made significant contributions including completing an old-fashioned three-point play at the 2:28 mark of the second quarter, providing a nice 48-37 cushion for the team. At this point, New York’s defense was stifling – holding Boston to just 10 points through 10 minutes of play in the second period.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni utilized several different lineups in the backcourt. Reserve guard Jeremy Lin received some early action in the first quarter, replacing Shumpert. Lin did not play in the second half as D’Antoni went to veteran point guard Toney Douglas and shifted either Fields or Shumpert to the shooting guard spot.
Anthony hit 8-of-17 shots for 26 points in a valiant effort. For most of the game he had to battle Pierce, who enjoyed a 30-point night. The Knicks small forward has played solid offensive basketball after resting for a couple of games due to a variety of injuries.
Shumpert finished with seven points and five assists in 41 minutes. His defensive performance stood out again – limiting Rondo to just seven points on 3-for-8 shooting and keeping him out of the lane for most of the night.
Following the completion of Friday’s game, the Knicks boarded the team plane for quick jaunt back to New York. On Saturday, the squad will complete the physically and mentally draining set of three-games-in-three-nights with a matchup against the Nets at Madison Square Garden.