City Sports Report

Knicks Lose Garden Classic to Celtics, 118-116 by Derrel “Jazz” Johnson

The New York Knicks led the Boston Celtics by as many as 12, 79-67 with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Landry Fields, but in the end, a made 3-pointer by Amar’e Stoudemire that send the Madison Square Garden crowd of 19,763 that included notables like Donald Trump into euphoria was too late, and the Celtics escaped with a 2-point victory. Celtic forward Paul Pierce hit a jumper over Stoudemire on the previous possession with 0.4 left for the margin of victory.
“We wanted to go pick-and-roll at the top, me and Kevin. We knew they’d probably switch and coaches said win the game for us. I got to a spot on the right side, tried to drive it hard and pulled it right there on the right side of the court” Pierce said.  Stoudemire, who defended Pierce on the play, said “It was a high screen-and-roll to a switch.  He (Pierce) was able to get the step back and he hit the jumper.”
The Knicks led for most of the game, going up 28-18 with 2:57 left in the first quarter on a jumper by Raymond Felton.  Stoudemire exploded for 17 points and 5 rebounds in that quarter.  The Knicks took a 58-51 half-time lead on a 29-foot buzzer beater by Felton.  The Knicks had what many thought was a comfortable 90-83 lead after three quarters but were outscored in the fourth 35-26.
Pierce led the Celtics with 32 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.  Ray Allen scored 26 points, and Kevin Garnett scored 20, while grabbing 13 rebounds, with 3 steals and 3 assists.  Rajon Rando had 10 points and 14 assists, and Glen Davis came off the bench to score 11 points and pulled down 5 rebounds.
Stoudemire lead the Knicks with 39 points and 10 rebounds, while Felton scored 26 points and dished out 14 assists.  Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points, and Wilson Chandler scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, with 2 blocks and 2 steals.
When I asked Celtics Coach Doc Rivers if he knew before the game his team would give up 116 points, would it be a win or a loss, he said “We would have thought we’d still win.  We thought we could score.  But I would have told you I wouldn’t be happy and I’m not.”  When asked about Stoudemire’s scoring, Coach Rivers replied “We didn’t mind his points.  If he was going to score 50 he was going to have to score 50.  The plan was to stop everyone else and we didn’t do that very well.”
Many of the players on both teams talked about the great atmophere at Madison Square Garden last night.  Kevin Garnett said “The atmosphere was great.  I feel like we had equal fans here, great basketball on each side.  I’ve also played here when Pat, Latrell, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen the duration and change, both ends of it.  Tonight there was a lot of energy at the Garden.”  Pierce agreed.  “It was a great game for fans to watch.”  Danilo Gallinari added “It was great.  The fans were unbelieveable.”
Many of the Knicks were proud of the effort, and the Celtics were very complimentary as well.  “Knicks are playing great basketball, we can’t take anything away from them.  I actually thought Amar’e’s shot counted, especially after all the theatrics.  They test our defense.  There are a couple of teams in the NBA that test our defense, and they are one of them.  They really challenge our defense, it was tough on us all night” Pierce said.  Felton added “I’m satisfied with the way we played” but “I’m mad.  I hate to lose.”
The Knicks face their second-straight opponent with a 10-game winning streak, when they play the Miami Heat tomorrow.

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