BOSTON -- They confiscated signs. They confiscated faux and real cereal boxes. They refused to allow fans to wear or even display certain T-shirts.
Yes, the TD Garden security apparatus was at Defcon 5 on Thursday night, ensuring that Carmelo Anthony would, at the very worst, be booed. He was, but not nearly with the venom or at the volume that Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom heard years ago. It was almost as if the fans felt they had to do it, rather than really, really wanted to do it.
"I thought they'd be a little more rude," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "It wasn't bad at all."
The lack of potential visual incendiary devices along with the obligatory but hardly heartfelt jeers made the Anthony-Kevin Garnett "rematch" a nonstory, which is what both players insisted afterward had always been the case.
Signs? T-shirts? There might be plenty going forward and they may not be easy on Celtics' eyes. For Anthony scored 28 points, 20 more than Garnett, and the Knicks beat the Celtics 89-86. For those of you counting at home, that's five straight losses for the Celtics, who are an unthinkable 20-22.
The game marked the first visit by the Knicks to TD Garden this season and the first game outside of New York City for Anthony since he and Garnett went into Potty Mouth Overdrive in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7. Anthony was so enraged he followed Garnett to the Celtics' team bus, earning himself a one-game suspension.
Urban myth has it that Garnett referenced the breakfast cereal Honey Nut Cheerios in their discussions, which, for profundity alone, probably came up short against, say the 18th-century chats between Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire.
Enterprising fans brought cereal boxes to the game. Enterprising entrepreneurs outside the building sold green T-shirts with Garnett's face on the Honey Nut Bee and the words "Honey Nut Carmelos" in large letters. They cost $20 but you could get them for $15 if you bargained hard.
Fans in one section of the Garden were told not to show the shirts when they were highlighted on the Jumbotron. As the in-house camera moved down the row, one fan held his "Honey Nut Carmelos" shirt for all to see. The camera quickly reversed direction, and a building security guard told him and his friend that they would be asked to leave if they so much as tried to show the shirts or, God forbid, actually wear them.
But this was really contrived resentment against Anthony, which became clearer as the game continued. After all, he, not Garnett, had been the one suspended following Busgate. And the Celtics, not the Knicks, had won the Jan. 7 game (with no Rajon Rondo). There wasn't the nastiness of "ugly sister," which fans chanted when Lamar Odom went to the line during Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals. (If Odom didn't hear them, he could have looked into the stands to see thousands of fans with Khloe Kardashian face signs.)
No, if Celtics' fans had any concern about confiscations, they might have wondered who was responsible for confiscating the jump shots of Jason Terry and Avery Bradley. Or Paul Pierce's end-of-game decision-making.
By the third quarter, Anthony was helping Garnett off the floor after KG had been fouled by Tyson Chandler (against whom he was matched most of the night).
"There's no grudges between myself and KG," Anthony said. "Whatever happened, happened. We spoke about that and it's over with. I don't hold grudges. He fell. I helped him up. I don't hold anything against a guy like that."
Garnett said, simply, "yeah" when asked if the situation was over and then, as is his custom, wished one and all a good night.
Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds and made all seven of his free throws in the Jan. 7 game. On Thursday, he had eight points. He missed six of nine shots, including a wide-open trademark elbow jumper that would have tied the game in the final 91 seconds. He also missed two free throws; his free throw percentage is at a 10-season low.
Anthony may have needed 28 shots to get his 28 points, but he also made the right passes out of double-teams late in the game. Asked how he thought Anthony acquitted himself, Kidd, who was called a "wife beater" during the 2002 Eastern Conference finals, said, "he's a professional. He has played in hostile environments in college. I give him an A. He went on out there and scored 28 points and got himself a win."
Until Thursday, Anthony had never won in Boston as a Knick. There had been tough losses along the way, including one in the playoffs where he threw his headband in disgust. Until Thursday, Garnett had never lost to the Knicks in TD Garden.
Anthony said he was expecting things to be much more hostile, adding, "it was all cool." In the end, the two principals from Jan. 7 behaved themselves -- Garnett didn't get a foul until the fourth quarter -- and so, too, did the crowd.