Rapid reaction: Celtics 96, Knicks 93
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Rajon Rondo scored a career postseason-high 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting, while adding seven assists and four rebounds, while Kevin Garnett produced 12 points and 10 rebounds -- hitting the winning basket and providing a key late-game stop -- as the Celtics again pulled ahead in the final seconds of a dizzying fourth quarter. Without Chauncey Billups (left knee strain) and Amare Stoudemire (left with back spasms), Carmelo Anthony tried to will the Knicks to victory, scoring 42 points on 14-of-30 shooting with 17 rebounds, but it wasn't enough.
Nursing a one-point cushion with little more than four minutes to play in the third quarter, the Celtics embarked on 12-2 run to build a 11-point bulge. Ray Allen ignited the burst with a 3-pointer, Jeff Green contributed a triple along the way and Paul Pierce capped it with a pair of jumpers for a 74-63 lead with 44 ticks to play in the third.
It should have been enough, but the Celtics couldn't cool off Carmelo. Anthony scored the final four points of the third frame, then produced nine of the first 13 to start the fourth as the Knicks rallied ahead on his jumper with just less than eight minutes to play. After seesaw play, the Knicks grabbed two offensive rebounds while trailing by a point late and Jared Jeffries produced a layup to put the Knicks on top 93-92 with 19.3 seconds to play. That's when KG took over with a little bunny in the lane for the pivotal bucket.
STAT OF THE GAME
After finishing with a 10-rebound edge in Game 1, the Celtics got annihilated on the glass. The Knicks boasted a 53-37 advantage, turning 20 offensive caroms into 24 second-chance points, which allowed them to hang around as long as they did.
Pierce might have been on the wrong side of Anthony's 42 points, but he did all he could in the final moments to force the ball out of his hands (and Boston's constant double-team with Glen Davis aided that cause). Pierce chipped in 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting over 45 minutes.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics sure don't like making things easy on themselves. Even without two of its three stars, New York hung around on the offensive exploits of Anthony and the Celtics' aversion to rebounding. Yet again, however, the Celtics produced the big plays when they mattered most, leaning on a rare late-game hero in Garnett (Pierce and Ray Allen are normally the go-to guys down the stretch).
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