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Knicks’ slide continues as Celtics come from 15 down to win

Mar 22, 2011, 12:18 AM EDT


Because there might be a little rivalry between the two cities when it comes to sports, we’re rooting for — and could see — a New York/Boston first-round matchup. Boston is deadlocked with Chicago for first, and New York is comfortably in the seventh spot, with no reason to believe that the team will be climbing much higher, given its recent slide.

It was fitting, then, that the two teams clashed for an extremely physical battle that felt like playoff basketball on Monday at MSG. The only problem for the Knicks: very few teams have what it takes to play a physical 48 minutes against this Celtics team, and Boston was cool down the stretch as New York collapsed.

The Celtics came from 15 points down in the third, and nine points down with just over seven minutes remaining to win in typical Boston style, 96-86.

The physical play on both ends led to a star from each team being bloodied in the second half. Ray Allen caught an inadvertent elbow to the head from the Knicks Jared Jeffries late in the third quarter as the two both went up for a rebound. Allen was bleeding profusely, and headed to the locker room to get patched up. He returned to the game in the fourth with no stitches, just a big bandage above his right eye covering the wound.

Late in the fourth quarter, Carmelo Anthony went down near half court while bleeding from over his left eye, after colliding with Rajon Rondo while trying to steal a pass.

Physical basketball comes easy to this Celtics team, and while the Knicks tried to play that way for most of the night, they couldn’t sustain it in the fourth quarter when Boston kicked things into another gear. And, the Knicks had no answer for Paul Pierce down the stretch.

Pierce scored 13 points in the final quarter, and did so without missing a shot. He was a perfect 5 of 5 from the field, while converting both of his free throw attempts, and hitting his only attempt from three-point land. He also added two rebounds and two assists in the period.

While Boston went to Pierce time and again late — and shot 70 percent as a team in that final period — the Knicks struggled to get their shots off. Good looks were nonexistent against Boston’s choking defense, and New York managed to hit only four of its 16 shots in the fourth. Overall, the Celtics ran the Knicks out of the gym in the second half, outscoring them by 24 points (59-35) over the final two periods.

It was an epic collapse from the Knicks, but one that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Boston is a championship-caliber team, one with both the talent and the experience to close out games like this. When things got tight, the Knicks had no idea who to turn to as a stabilizing force, and looked completely lost when the Celtics turned up the pressure.

The loss was New York’s sixth in its last seven games, and for a team that thought it was ready to take a step forward after trading for Anthony, it now seems as though they’ll only be able to barely slide into the postseason.

Once they get there, Boston will be waiting to show them a very early exit.

  1. virusgvr - Mar 22, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    Has anyone thought that the Knicks blow, and the “super block buster deal” they did isn’t going to work out?

    • andyhr17 - Mar 22, 2011 at 6:37 AM

      Wait, I thought all you needed to do was put a duo or trio of All-Stars on the same team and you just automatically won games. Doesn’t it work like that? Wait, you need to work together and play offense AND defense? Wait, you need a bench? I love how teams keep “copying” what Boston did with the Big Three, but the only thing they really copy is going out and signing a few All-Stars. Never mind the fact they are not true team players willing to sacrifice individual numbers for the sake of winning. As a Celtics fan, I love this trend of teams going out and maxing out their salary cap with All-Stars with nothing to surround them with. Go ahead, Melo, score your 25 points a night. Enjoy being the 7th or 8th seed and getting knocked out in the first round.

      • hnirobert3 - Mar 22, 2011 at 7:48 AM

        Where the Knicks messed up is that they got plan D and E whereas the Heat got plan A, B, C. The Heat needed more time to gel compared to the Boston three, but they have the two time reigning MVP and a former Finals MVP, whereas the Knicks got “I need my own team because I’ll always be in Steve Nash’s shadow” and Mr. LaLa Vazquez…

  2. hnirobert3 - Mar 22, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    By the way…

    The Knicks are back. Real talk.

  3. garryfish - Mar 22, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    You knew when the trade happened, it was going to take time, maybe not this year, at least as a Knicks fan we have hope. Hang in there.

    • andyhr17 - Mar 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM

      “It’s going to take time”…isn’t that something you say when you’re rebuilding? Isn’t that something a team like the Cavs would say, not a team with two legitimate All-Stars?

      • hnirobert3 - Mar 22, 2011 at 9:13 AM

        Not necessarily. The Celtics were the exception to the rule in all of this. They got 3 established, Hall of Fame caliber players that knew their roles. The Heat and Knicks have younger guys who are still growing their own games, nevertheless learning how to play with a whole set of new guys. It should take years, like a rebuilding process, but a few months ain’t gonna cut it. You’re just now starting to see the Heat turn the corner.

      • zackd2 - Mar 22, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        No. Anyone who expected this to be a top-5 team in 2011 were clueless “fans”, and anyone saying they’re going to suck forever are clueless haters.

  4. andyhr17 - Mar 22, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    The Heat need a bench, a reliable big man, Wade and Lebron need to start playing together rather than playing like two superstars who happen to be on the same team, and someone who is a go-to guy at the end of the game to take the last shot (should be Wade). They get all of this in place, and they can definitely compete. Personally, I think their lack of bench is going to really hurt them in the post season.

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 22, 2011 at 10:19 AM

      They’re not going to have the best bench, but once healthy Udonis Haslem is a lock for a 10/10 off the bench, Mike Miller’s shooting has been off this season but he’ll eventually rebound and shoot the ball like he’s used to and Chalmers will be a nice addition to the bench as a change of pace/energy guy now that Bibby will be starting. The Heat bench, this season, will be the worst it will ever be. Next year they’ll have the midlevel exception (unless the new CBA blows that up) and will be able to go out and get serviceable guys who want a smooth ride to a Championship.

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