Following a foul by the Knicks — which was expected, since the Knicks had a foul to give — Garnett received the inbounds from Rondo and faked a handoff to Rondo. Two Knicks defenders collided, giving Garnett a split-second open look, but Walker got over just in time to trouble the shot.
Garnett then went and shoved Walker in the neck, and Chandler steps in to separate them. Merry Christmas!
Fourth quarter, :04.4, Knicks 106-104: Daniels has taken a beating defending Anthony, but he had a chance to be the hero with a corner 3 after the defense collapsed on a driving Allen. The shot rimmed out, but Rondo outworked Chandler for an offensive rebound.
Celtics take their final timeout.
Fourth quarter, :16.3, Knicks 106-104: Celtics fans will not be happy with that defensive foul on Daniels. Rivers wasn’t.
Covering Anthony on the perimeter, Daniels poked the ball from behind as Anthony drove. Joey Crawford was quick with the whistle, and Daniels walks all the way off the court in disgust.
Anthony drops both free throws.
Fourth quarter, :58.9,tie game 104-104: Anthony has scored 15 points in the fourth as he’s almost single-handedly kept the Knicks in this game.
‘Melo split a double team and rattled home a double-pump leaner, although Daniels was able to get open underneath for a layup on the other end to tie it back up
Fourth quarter, 1:51, tie game 102-102: Free throw struggles cost the Knicks a chance to take the lead. Chandler and Anthony can only hit one of two each to tie the game at 102-102.
Garnett has missed back-to-back long jumpers, getting a little too confident after hitting a couple huge ones. Bass again hustles on the offense glass, though, and Anthony is only able to knock the ball out of bounds.
Fourth quarter, 2:47, Celtics 102-100: Rondo has hit enough jump shots in this game that it can’t be called a fluke. After Allen hits a pair of free throws to push the C’s lead to six, Rondo knocks down a jumper off a pick by Garnett to give the Celtics an eight-point lead.
The Knicks will not go away, however, as a 3 by Douglas pulls the Knicks within 1 at 98-97. Garnett responds with a long jump shot and the C’s take a 100-97 lead.
Then things start to get crazy. A deep 3 by Anthony makes it 100-100, then Garnett’s jumper makes it 102-100 Celtics.
Anyone who expected the first game of the year to be ugly and non-competitive must not know what a Celtics-Knicks game at MSG is like.
Fourth quarter, 6:14, Celtics 94-90: Just in case anyone forgot, the referees would like to remind you they’re still here, and they can still affect the game.
O’Neal gets the “T” this time, and Anthony converts the free throw.
Shumpert’s injury is apparently a sprained right MCL. Safe to say he won’t return.
Fourth quarter, 7:43, Celtics 94-89: Pavlovic gets called for a questionable technical foul and Anthony hits the free throw. It was a very weird call, but the refs appear to give a makeup call by whistling our old friend Bill Walker for an offensive foul.
Fourth quarter, 8:04, Celtics 94-88: Pavlovic enters to cover Anthony, and ‘Melo promptly finds Chandler for an alley-oop dunk.
Fourth quarter, 8:33, Celtics 94-86: With the rest of the Knicks struggling on offense, Anthony has gotten the eye of the Tiger. He dropped a difficult jumper covered by Daniels, then got a pair of free throws on a drive.
Fortunately for the Celtics, Bass continues to be hot, notching another baseline jumper and offensive rebound, and Garnett just contributed a fadeaway free throw line jump shot as the shot clock expired.
End third quarter, Celtics 87-79: Who still misses Big Baby?
Brandon Bass has been a force, especially in the third quarter as the Celtics surge back from a 10-point halftime deficit. He now has 18 points, 10 rebounds (four offensive) and has committed just two fouls. He has yet to miss in the third.
UPDATE: According to Howard Beck of The New York Times, Shumpert’s injury is to his right knee. No medical details yet.
Third quarter, :57.7, Celtics 85-77: Shumpert appears to have turned his ankle, so the Knicks will get a needed stoppage.
An interesting, smallish lineup for the Celtics of Wilcox, Bass, Allen, Dooling and Rondo has fared well, surprisingly doing better than some of the Celtics’ bigger lineups in preventing shots at the hoop. Bass has had two big offensive rebounds, leading to a two-handed power dunk and an elbow jumper for the LSU product.
Third quarter, 3:01, Celtics 77-73: Rondo will get tons of plaudits for an excellent bounce pass between two Knicks defenders to Daniels on the break, as well as his behind-the-back look to Bass earlier in the game, but he has made a couple of poor decisions trying to force the ball to Daniels.
Daniels has been covered by Douglas, so it makes sense to take advantage of that mismatch, but Rondo has thrown a premature bounce pass that skipped out of bounds and overthrew a post entry pass for a turnover.
Sure, this is nitpicking, but if Rondo ends up playing this entire season like he is in this game, he’ll be an MVP candidate — so consider the bar raised.
Third quarter, 4:18, Celtics 75-69: The Celtics first unit — substituting Daniels for Pierce in this case (please don’t talk to me about Pavlovic) — may still be one of the best in the league.
Rondo, Garnett, O’Neal, Allen and Daniels seem to be a bit more in synch than their teammates, as evidenced by an alley-oop from Allen to O’Neal to give the Celtics the lead. The Knicks look a little shellshocked, with Fields committing an offensive foul (drawn by O’Neal) on an alley-oop attempt with Chandler and Stoudemire airballing a free throw line jumper.
Third quarter, 7:11, tie game 69-69: Anthony has been great thus far, but Rondo has been the best player in this game.
He already has seven points in the third quarter, including two fast-break layups — one of which tied the game at 69-all. He took an elbow on the chin from Anthony, who was attempting to break a double-team, but who needs a chin? Rondo proved last season he doesn’t really need an elbow.
Allen is also starting to heat up, knocking down a 3 and a jumper from the baselines.
Third quarter, 8:40, Knicks 67-60: With Pavlovic covering Anthony, the Knicks have figured out an interesting way to address their lack of a true point guard. Anthony has brought the ball up a number of times, twice taking uncontested 3′s, swishing one of two. Whereas Bass and Wilcox seem to merely be confused on defense, Pavlovic is showing a troubling tendency to just not pay attention.
Halftime, Knicks 62-52: Even a hobbling Pierce might look good to Celtics fans right about now. Anthony is torching the Celtics’ wing forwards, who either aren’t quick enough to keep up with him or aren’t big enough to keep him from shooting over them.
Daniels has been the most effective so far, but ‘Melo has made several tough jumpers with Daniels in his face and leads the Knicks with 17 first-half points.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the so-so at halftime:
The Good: Rondo, who may be the best player on the Garden floor. He has a game-high 19 points and four steals, and is tied with Daniels for the lead in assists with four. Yet his plus/minus is minus-7, which is more evidence the basketball plus/minus statistic is completely useless. … Anthony, who is not only scoring but rebounding and playing defense as well. He has seven rebounds, the most of any Knick, along with two steals. … Stoudemire, who has played an efficient 16:08 with 12 points. He’s missed only one of his six shot attempts, and knocked down both of his 3-point attempts. … Douglas will not be mistaken for John Stockton or Mo Cheeks anytime soon, but he’s done a decent job of directing the Knicks’ offense. He’s 5-of-8 shooting for 11 points and has just two assists, but most importantly he has only one turnover and has taken only two 3′s. His shot-happy game could be a detriment on a team that has two elite scorers in Anthony and Stoudemire.
The Bad: It’s a lot more difficult to defend on the perimeter when it’s not Jerryd Bayless, isn’t it, Celtics? Allen is looking slow against Douglas and Shumpert on both offense and defense, and Rondo has never been an outstanding on-ball defender (although he’s far from bad). Garnett and O’Neal seem to understand when to help, but those 30-something legs don’t get their as quickly as they used to. Wilcox and Bass just flat-out don’t know what to do sometimes. … Sasha Pavlovic has played 10:51 with zero points and three fouls. … The Knicks are outrebounding the Celtics 21-16.
The So-so: Shumpert passes the eye test with his energy, but whether he’s contributing anything of substance is questionable. He’s forcing the issue by going to the hoop and has hit all six of his free throw attempts, but he’s just 2-of-11 shooting and has committed two turnovers in 14:19. … Bass has 10 points in his 11:48 on the floor and has four rebounds, but he continues to get lost at times on defense and has not consistently boxed out. He’s clearly trying to learn on the fly, but he’s proving that basketball isn’t just a physical game but a mental one, too. … Daniels has not shot well, missing all four of his attempts. Moving on offense and staying with Anthony on defense, however, he has been solid.
End second quarter, Knicks 62-52: Meet Rondo, the scorer.
The Celtics point guard was their most effective player putting the ball in the hoop in the first half. He scored his 19 points in a variety of ways, including a driving layup where he was bumped into the basket standard (without drawing a whistle) and yet another long jump shot, this one from the right baseline.
Rondo’s exploits can’t offset the Celtics’ bad defense so far, as the bigs in particular are rotating way too late and allowing many easy shots at the hoop for the Knicks.
Shumpert and Douglas have been extremely aggressive in going to the hoop, where Bass isn’t much of an imposing presence.
Second quarter, 3:25, Knicks 56-46: Bass has done most of the scoring to get the Celtics back within striking distance, scoring six of their last eight points, but Rondo’s pass got the oohs and aahs.
Rondo made a left-handed, behind the back pass that will be replayed in highlight reels for a while. Bass corralled the pass and threw down the dunk.
Unfortunately for Boston, Carmelo hits a 3, then is fouled on another attempt to give the Knicks back the double-digit lead.
Second quarter, 5:47, Knicks 49-38: As it turns out, Bass can catch Rondo’s passes. That’s quite a development for anyone who watched the two preseason games, when the recently acquired forward couldn’t seem to handle anything Rondo threw.
After a solid driving bank shot, Bass gets ahead of the defense and gathers in an outlet pass by Rondo for a dunk. The bucket pulls the Celtics within 11 and there’s a timeout on the floor.
Second quarter, 6:56, Knicks 49-34: Absolutely terrible defensive rotation by Pavlovic. When Garnett stepped out to defense Douglas, Pavlovic failed to rotate over and cut off the passing lane to Chandler down low. As a result, Chandler gets a couple free throws out of the deal.
Second quarter, 8:20, 25-29: Douglas is doing just what one would expect an unproven third-year guard to do: Play physical with the future Hall of Famer he is covering.
Douglas pushed Allen out of the paint on an inbounds pass, drawing a double technical, then hits a floater, forces a turnover by Allen and beats Allen for a layup to put the Knicks up 16.
The Celtics call a timeout to talk it over, and they really need to talk it over.
The Celtics expected to struggle covering Anthony on the wing, but it’s unlikely they expected so much trouble from Douglas — or for Stoudemire to be doing so much damage so far from the basket.
Stoudemire knocks down his second 3-pointer of the game to give him 10 points. He’s missed just one shot so far.
Second quarter, 9:46, Knicks 38-29: If you don’t like Daniels as a player, you don’t like (or know) basketball.
The 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of Auburn dribbles off a screen by Garnett and finds Wilcox, who has sealed off his man deep in the post. Wilcox gets an easy dunk for his second basket of the game.
End first quarter, Knicks 34-23: Iman Shumpert, a rookie guard out of Georgia Tech, is victimizing the Celtics’ lack of backcourt depth and interior presence. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard has seven points in less than six minutes of playing time by beating his man and getting to the hoop, or using his speed to chase down an offensive rebound as he just did.
The Celtics’ preseason rebounding struggles appear to be an issue to watch. Despite the Knicks’ reputation for not being very physical in the post, they outrebounded the Celtics 11-7 in the first quarter.
First quarter, 1:07, Knicks 30-17: Uh, you’re playing for the team in green, Chris.
Wilcox grabbed a rebound and handed it right to ‘Melo. Only one problem: ‘Melo’s on the other team.
The Celtics are obviously have trouble integrating the new guys like Dooling, Wilcox and Bass into the rotation. But some things — like passing the ball to your own teammates, not the other team — they should pretty much have down by now, shouldn’t they?
First quarter, 3:02, Knicks 24-16: Daniels is doing a much better job of staying with Anthony than Pavlovic, who was unable to stay with Anthony around the Knicks’ many off-ball screens. Daniels has a couple of deflections but no steals yet.
With Wilcox and Bas on the floor in place of Garnett and O’Neal, though, the Celtics are struggling with their interior defense Iman Shumpert just went easily the basket on the secondary break and earned an and-one layup.
First quarter, 5:42, Knicks 19-12: In more sideline wardrobe news, Craig Sager’s outfit is an atrocity, as usual.
First quarter, 6:22, Knicks 17-10: Rondo, better known as a facilitator, has actively looked for his own shot in the opening minutes. He already has seven points, including a 15-foot jumper, and is the Celtics’ leading scorer.
Stoudemire and Garnett already playing physically, picking each other up on defense at least 20 feet from the hoop.
First quarter, 7:36, Knicks 14-9: This game features four of the best straight-out-of-high-school big men in recent history. Garnett was drafted out of Farragut Academy in 1995, O’Neal was taken by the Blazers out of Eau Claire in 1996 and Chandler was the No. 2 pick in 2001 out of Dominguez. Stoudemire was drafted out of Cypress Creek in 2002.
Chandler came out of high school billed as the “next KG.” Funny how their games changed once they were in the league for a couple of seasons. Both began as athletic finishers, but Garnett turned into more of an outside-inside threat while Chandler became one of ther most dominant defensive players in the league.
First quarter, 10:19, Knicks 6-2: Lots of boos for Rondo from the Madison Square Garden crowd. They must not like pure point guards who can actually handle the ball and distribute.
Odd offensive look from the Knicks on their first series. They didn’t attempt a shot until two seconds before the shot clock expired. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is known for his “7 seconds or less” offense.
Both teams are featuring snowflake patches around the NBA logos on their chests. Very festive.
In sideline apparel news, Pierce is looking very presidential in a navy blue pinstriped suit and red tie. All he’s missing is an American flag pin on his lapel.
11:58 a.m.: The Knicks have a clear advantage at small forward with Anthony against Pavlovic, but the Celtics hold all the cards in the backcourt.
Rajon Rondo will match up with Toney Douglas while Ray Allen will be covered by Landry Fields. Douglas is a streaky player, while Fields is a solid offensive and defensive player, but neither is on par with the Celtics’ pair of All-Stars.
The projected starting lineups:
11:31 a.m.: Sasha Pavlovic will make his eighth NBA start in the last two years when the Celtics tip off against the Knicks on Sunday at noon.
Paul Pierce, who reportedly traveled with the Celtics to New York, is reportedly out with a bone bruise in his right heel.
Marquis Daniels is expected to be a key off the bench as the Celtics must try to slow down Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony.
Mickael Pietrus, who the Celtics signed Saturday, is not an option. Pietrus was released by Phoenix on Thursday and had to wait 48 hours to clear waivers, and he has a physical scheduled for Monday. Pietrus should add outside shooting and athleticism to the wing position, although his offensive game is limited and he’s known as an inconsistent defender.
8 a.m.: Paul Pierce is in the building, but whether he will suit up with a sore heel for Sunday’s game against the Knicks remains uncertain.
The 34-year-old forward had been declared “doubtful” for this game by Celtics coach Doc Rivers, but the news that Pierce made the trip to New York creates the possibility he could play. It would not be the first time he hobbled through a big game, and when it’s the first NBA action if more than five months and the entire country is watching, that’s a big game.
If Pierce can’t play with a bone bruise in his right heel, Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic will be called upon to compensate for his absence.
Check back for updates throughout the day and join us at the noon tipoff for thoughts and analysis during the game.