Celtics-Knicks Live: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green Find Little Help as Boston Drops 108-89 Decision in New York

Jeff Green liveblogFinal, Knicks 108-89: Paul Pierce and Jeff Green came to play in the Mecca of basketball. The rest of their team just did not follow suit.

Pierce and Green combined for 51 points, and Pierce added 15 rebounds on a night the Knicks had no trouble putting the ball in the hoop. The Celtics’ defense had a lot to do with that, of course, especially beyond the arc. The Knicks shot 14-for-27 from long range, allowing them earn the win despite the Celtics beating them 38-22 on points in the paint.

Carmelo Anthony lead the Knicks with 24 points, while J.R. Smith had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Copeland added 22 points off the bench, because of course he would.

The biggest worry might be Pierce’s right ankle, which he was icing on the bench late in the game. The team said the ankle was just sore, but keep an eye on that. Ankle trouble is going around on the Celtics lately — it’s not contagious, is it? — and we would not be surprised to see Pierce sit out Monday’s game in Minnesota.

Fourth quarter, 5:44, Knicks 97-75: Rivers apparently opted for the “rest” option. D.J. White took to the court, while Pierce could be seen removing his sneaker and icing his right ankle. Considering the Celtics’ recent history with ankles, that is somewhat of a worrisome sign for them.

Anyway, let’s see what these guys can do.

Fourth quarter, 7:29, Knicks 94-73: Sending out Crawford, Williams, Wilcox and Lee onto the floor with Green, Rivers is almost forcing somebody other than Green or Pierce to prove they can score. So far, the results are iffy.

Pierce, who is on the bench, has combined with Green to score 51 of Boston’s 73 points. On four straight possessions, the Celtics took looooong jumpers early in the shot clock, helping the Knicks work their lead up above 20 points. The Celtics need a Memphis-like boost from somebody like Crawford or to pack it in for the night and rest up for Monday’s game in Minny.

End of third quarter, Knicks 86-69: Bradley remains one of the best perimeter defenders in the game, but for the third time in four games, an opposing point guard is having a relatively easy time getting past him. That trickles down to the rest of the guards, as Williams and Crawford have been no less effective in keeping Felton out of the paint.

Felton’s penetration is opening up his teammate for all sorts of open shots. Barring that, Felton is taking the shot himself. He is 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-6 from three to put up 18 points, the second-most of any New York player. Anthony leads the way for the Knicks with 20 points.

Pierce and Green continue to provide an inordinate amount of the Celtics’ scoring. That is even true at the foul line, where those two are 13-for-18 on free throws. Terry, who is 1-for-1, is the only other Celtic to go to the line.

Third quarter, 5:22, Knicks 77-64: Green and Pierce have 44 points combined, while the rest of the Celtics have just 20. They have gotten a bit more balance on offense to begin the second half, and twice worked the deficit down to 11 points, but those pushes were brief. The Knicks continue to shoot well from the floor and are not getting shy on their threes.

The Knicks are just 1-for-6 from downtown in the second half, as the Celtics are defending marginally better.

Halftime, Knicks 65-48: The Knicks are red-hot from beyond the arc, and not just because Felton hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. Without doing anything all that special on offense, the Knicks are 11-of-15 on 3-pointers and have a 17-point advantage as a result.

The Knicks are getting open with basic drive-and-kicks and some pick-and-roll stuff way out on the perimeter, and the Celtics are just doing a terrible job of helping and rotating. Good things are happening on offense for the Celtics when they attack the basket. (They hold a 26-12 advantage in points in the paint.) Green in particular is having success against Anthony’s weak defense, but all the twos in the world will not win a game when the other team gets open threes whenever it wants.

Anthony leads everybody with 18 points, while Green is right behind him with 16 points.

The Celtics are getting outworked on the glass, even with Martin heading out with a strained abdominal muscle. He may return, according to the team, but the Knicks might not even need him if the Celtics keep defending the perimeter as poorly as they did in the first half.

Second quarter, 5:46, Knicks 48-35: Randolph has his work cut out for him if he wants to come anywhere close to his performance of two days ago. Not only has he yet to crack the box score in any good ways, he has looked out of position and a step late on defense several times.

Similarly, the entire Celtics team looks lost on defense. They left Steve Novak, who is sort of a really good shooter, wide open beyond the arc twice. Novak made them pay both times.

Second quarter, 7:06, Knicks 44-34: Smith took a while to heat up, but he seems to be feeling it now. Chris Copeland, who popped off the bench to hit his first three shots (including two 3-pointers), may have inspired Smith.

Smith is now 3-for-5 from the field and drew a tough and-one in the paint against Lee. Playing in his second game back since injuring his left ankle, Lee is moving reasonably well and has six points off moving without the ball and running the floor. He lightly dunked home an oop pass on the break by Crawford, who is having a difficult time keeping Felton out of the paint.

End of first quarter, Knicks 28-23: It took almost seven minutes of floor time, but Smith finally notched his first basket of the game. With 0.6 seconds on the clock, Smith shook Terrence Williams out of his sneakers and drilled a step-back jumper to cap off the first quarter.

Coming off his near-double-double against the Hawks, Shavlik Randolph is off the bench early again in New York. He has not had nearly the impact thus far statistically — he has not scored or grabbed a rebound in about three minutes — but his size is helpful as the Celtics are going to need a big body to bring some energy. Martin has outworked many of the big men he has played against. Randolph cannot allow that to happen here.

As for the players most fans can identify without a program, Anthony is rolling along, as usual. He has a game-high 12 points as the Knicks are still shooting better than 50 percent from the field.

First quarter, 5:50, Knicks 16-14: Nobody is doing a whole of missing so far, which makes sense. Putting the ball in the hoop is sort of the point of this sport, or so I’ve heard.

The teams have combined to shoot 12-for-21 from the field, and no one has been as aggressive as Green — not even Anthony. Green is the early scoring leader with seven points, and his only miss was a Martin rejection when Green attempted a turnaround jumper against Felton in the post.

Lee checked into the game a little less than a minute ago. After starting with a relatively “big” lineup with Pierce at the two, the Celtics are now really small with Bass nominally at center with Pierce, Green, Bradley and Lee.

7:03 p.m.: Hopefully, you have all recovered from Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury. I certainly have not. Still, the Celtics do have a game to play, even if it is admittedly a little tough to do anything but hope everything works out for the kid.

In far-less-gut-wrenching injury news, Courtney Lee will again be available but will not start. Lee played just six minutes in Friday’s win over Atlanta, which was all the Celtics really needed out of him thanks to the play of Terrence Williams and Jason Terry. Kevin Garnett, who is dealing with inflammation in his left ankle, will sit out for the seventh time in nine games. Garnett is also expected to miss Monday’s game in Minnesota.

For the second straight game, the opponent will help out the Celtics a bit by sitting their best big man. Tyson Chandler will miss the game with back spasms, following the Hawks’ Al Horford, who was unavailable Friday with a stomach illness.

No such luck on Knicks coach Mike Woodson resting J.R. Smith, too. The reserve guard has scored more than 30 points off the bench in three straight games, including Tuesday’s 32-point performance in Boston.

The projected starters appear below.

Celtics
Chris Wilcox
Brandon Bass
Jeff Green
Paul Pierce
Avery Bradley

Knicks
Kenyon Martin
Carmelo Anthony
Iman Shumpert
Pablo Prigioni
Raymond Felton

8 a.m. ET: The last team to beat the Celtics prior to their current two-game win streak was the Knicks. Jeff Green and company have a chance to change that Sunday.

In a special Easter edition of the NBA’s best traditional rivalry, the Celtics (38-34) and the Knicks (45-26) will face off at Madison Square Garden. This is the fourth and final meeting of the year between these teams, and the Celtics need a victory to salvage a split.

Jason Terry and Shavlik Randolph came up big for the Celtics in their last game, while Green and Paul Pierce put together strong performances that are becoming commonplace for them. The Celtics will need similar efforts to beat the Knicks, who have won seven consecutive games despite dealing with injuries to a number of key players. The Knicks have not lost at home since March 9, so the Celtics have their work cut out for them.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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