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Monday, January 7, 2013

They Might Have A Worse Record Than Them But The Celtics Still Own The Knicks

You wouldn't think a Celtics-Knicks game on a Monday in early January would get the blood pumping but that's exactly what happened as the events at Madison Square Garden were much more interesting than Alabama's 42-14 pasting of Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game.

Playing without Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for a game after making contact with a referee in Atlanta on Saturday, Boston (17-17, 7-11 away) still found a way to hold off New York (23-11, 13-4 home) 102-96 in their first of four meetings in the regular season.

Paul Pierce led the Celts with 23 points and six assists, Kevin Garnett had 19 points, 10 rebounds and three steals while Avery Bradley (13 points, 5 assists) played like himself from last season. Jeff Green put up 16 points and six rebounds off the bench and Jared Sullinger had 10 points and five rebounds as Boston won its third straight game-all against Eastern Conference playoff teams.

J.R. Smith had 24 points off the bench for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points but he shot a putrid 6 of 26 from the field. Tyson Chandler added 13 points and 17 rebounds while Amar'e Stoudermire notched 13 points as a substitute.

The weird subplot is that KG and Melo got tangled up during the game in the fourth quarter (both earning technicals) and it apparently carried over to afterwards as Anthony tried to confront Garnett by Boston's team bus. Haha really dude? Luckily, there was about 1000 people there to make sure nothing actually happened.

This had the look and feel of a playoff game, right down to the scoreboard. Zing! The Celtics led 22-21 after the first quarter but the Knicks wrestled slight control away with a 56-53 halftime advantage. Boston's defense took over in the third quarter (23-16) and they were able to hang on in the fourth (26-24).

The Celtics won because they shot so well from the field (52.7%) and held the Knicks to 40.8%. The only reason New York made a game of it was because they hit eight more 3-pointers (14-6). No Rondo but Boston still had seven more assists (26-19) and 12 more points in the paint (40-28).

After we all left the C's for dead last week-rightfully so-they have certainly turned things around. They have the potential to go on a nice run here as the schedule really works out in their favor: their next five games are all at home. Only two of them are against playoff caliber teams (Rockets, Bulls) while the other three are cupcakes (Suns, Bobcats, Hornets).

Boston hosts Phoenix (12-23, 5th in Pacific Division) on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., CSN) in their first of two meetings this season.

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