Final: Celtics 105, Knicks 101. That'll do it. Despite a last-minute scare, the Celtics have finished off the Knicks, and Rajon Rondo has finished off the best statistical performance of his career — 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career high of 24 assists.
The C's looked shaky and inconsistent effort-wise, especially in the first quarter, but Rondo's inspired play and a spectacular shooting night from Kevin Garnett (12-for-17) paves the way for a solid victory at the TD Garden.
Paul Pierce hits his free throws down the stretch to ice the win. He finishes with 25 points to lead the way for Boston, and Garnett turns in his third double-double of the season (24 points, 10 rebounds). But the story is Rondo, who dominated in the second half to lead the C's to the win.
The Celtics improve to 2-1 on the season and now enjoy three days off before taking on the Pistons next Tuesday.
Fourth quarter, 1:17, Celtics 102-93: Rondo draws a foul from Amare Stoudemire, he gets to the line and he hits one of two. That's good enough for the triple-double — 10 points, 10 rebounds, 24 assists.
What a night.
Fourth quarter, 1:26, Celtics 101-93: He's been overshadowed by Rondo, but he's quietly had a huge night in his own right: Kevin Garnett has his third straight double-double, 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics are 86 seconds away from closing this thing out.
Fourth quarter, 2:33, Celtics 99-89: The Knicks are frantically trying to up the tempo and get back into this game. They're rushing things and making mistakes, which is only helping Rondo and the C's pile up numbers faster. Their chances of winning this game look shot.
Glen Davis has fouled out, finishing with 16 points and six rebounds.
Nate Robinson is back in the game. Good to see him healthy and back on the floor.
Fourth quarter, 3:48, Celtics 95-86: Rondo gets his 10th rebound. He's now one point away from a triple-double.
He's got a 9-10-22 game at the moment. That is downright insane.
Fourth quarter, 5:11, Celtics 93-82: Nate Robinson is off the floor after getting the wind knocked out of him on a collision with Rajon Rondo. And Shaquille O'Neal has returned to the locker room, for reasons yet undisclosed.
Looks like the Celtics will go with a crunch-time five of Rondo, the Big Three and Glen Davis. It's served them well in the past.
Fourth quarter, 5:49, Celtics 91-81: Every time the Knicks get close, the C's pull away again. And every time, it's Rajon Rondo getting the ball to one of the Big Three with a nice look at the basket.
Rondo now has 22 assists, creeping up on Bob Cousy's single-game Celtics record of 28.
Paul Pierce has 22 points, Kevin Garnett has 18, and Ray Allen now has 10 points after a slow start.
A lot of times last season, the C's would run out of steam in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Rondo's playmaking, that doesn't appear to be happening this time.
Fourth quarter, 8:20, Celtics 87-76: For the first time in his career, Rajon Rondo has recorded 20 assists in a single game. And he's still got over eight minutes to go.
Granted, assists always come easy at home, where the official scorer can be liberal and pile them on. Rondo has gotten credit for a few plays where a teammate did all the work, driving through traffic and creating for himself.
But 20 is 20, and that's a tremendously impressive stat regardless. What a gem of a night for Rondo.
Fourth quarter, 10:46, Celtics 84-72: Glen Davis to the cup for a the basket and the foul. Three-point play puts the Celtics up 12, and Rondo now has 18 assists, matching his regular-season career high.
The Celtics look poised to finish this thing. But we've seen this act before; they can't get too cocky yet.
End of third quarter, Celtics 79-72: If you blinked for a second, you might have missed Rajon Rondo quietly piling up 17 assists in the first three quarters of this game.
Complain about turnovers all you want, but 17 dimes and only five TOs is hard to gripe about. Rondo is getting the job done, and then some.
His favorite target tonight has undoubtedly been Paul Pierce, who now has 22 points to lead the way for Boston.
The C's are now 12 minutes away from their second home win this season in as many tries.
Third quarter, 2:40, Celtics 71-68: The Knicks absolutely refuse to go away. Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields are hitting their shots, and New York continues to match Boston bucket for bucket.
The Celtics are once again sticking with their super-small lineup featuring Glen Davis and Paul Pierce as the two bigs. I guess the hope is that the smaller Celtics can contest all those Knick jumpers. The bigger question, though, is whether they can get rebounds.
Third quarter, 3:44, Celtics 69-63: Just when the Knicks start to creep back up, Shaquille O'Neal comes up with a nice bucket inside to push the Celtics' lead back up to six.
Shaq is quietly, sneakily having a solid night for the Celtics. He's got 10 points (on efficient 5-of-7 shooting) and seven rebounds.
The Knicks just don't have anyone that can match up with Shaq, and they're really not even trying. Mike D'Antoni has apparently decided that going small is the Knicks' only hope.
Third quarter, 5:58, Celtics 67-60: You can tell the Knicks are struggling when Rajon Rondo has five rebounds and Amare Stoudemire only has four.
The Celtics are known for struggling in the paint, especially with one O'Neal inactive and the other playing limited minutes. But tonight, they're dominating.
Points in the paint? 36-20. Offensive rebounds? 9-3. Second-chance points? 14-4. Timofey Mozgov and Ronny Turiaf have both been rendered useless by these C's.
Third quarter, 7:56, Celtics 65-54: The Celtics have pushed their lead to double digits, as Paul Pierce gets a defensive rebound and fires a nice outlet pass to Rajon Rondo for a layup.
Nineteen points, 10 boards and three assists now for Pierce.
Five points, five rebounds and 14 assists for Rondo.
Those two guys are dominating. Thanks to them, no one will even notice that Ray Allen's been a complete non-factor (23 minutes, 1-for-5, five points).
Third quarter, 8:47, Celtics 61-53: Paul Pierce shows persistence on the offensive glass, twice missing contested driving layups but twice getting his own rebound. He finishes with a basket and a Danilo Gallinari foul.
The Celtics' captain now has 17 points and nine rebounds. Big night for him.
Third quarter, 10:57, Celtics 55-48: The Celtics get a Kevin Garnett bucket, then quickly KG grabs a rebound and dishes to Paul Pierce for a 3 in transition. It's a nice 5-0 run for the Celtics to open the second half.
KG now has 12 points and six rebounds. If he keeps crashing the boards, he's on his way to three straight double-doubles to start the season. Big start for the Big Ticket.
Halftime, Celtics 50-46: It hasn't been pretty, but the Celtics have managed to take a four-point halftime lead over the Knicks despite lax effort and 11 turnovers.
The C's have been led by an all-around solid first half from Paul Pierce — 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Wilson Chandler has come up big as the Knicks' primary bench scorer, scoring 12 of his own.
The Celtics will need to focus better and take better care of the basketball in the second half. They've got a lead, but it doesn't feel safe at all.
Second quarter, 3:07, Celtics 41-40: For the second game in a row, the Knicks are getting a huge offensive performance from Wilson Chandler off the bench.
Chandler had 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting against the Raptors in the opener Wednesday; he's got a game-high 12 against the Celtics on an efficient 6-of-10.
The Knicks as a team are shooting a solid 45.7 percent. Between that and the turnovers, the Celtics are doing fine to keep this game close.
Second quarter, 5:55, Knicks 36-35: The Knicks have battled back, as turnovers continue to dog the Celtics and Toney Douglas knocks down a nice 3 to take a one-point lead.
The Celtics have got to take better care of the basketball. They've now committed 10 turnovers, leading to 11 New York points. That's absolutely dreadful.
Second quarter, 8:51, Celtics 31-27: The Knicks' reserves are outscoring the Celtics' bench guys, 13-12 through the first 15 minutes. Wilson Chandler has six points off the bench for the Knicks, while Glen Davis has six for Boston.
Both teams are showing off their depth early.
Second quarter, 10:48, Celtics 29-25: A familiar face torches the Celtics for a nice wing 3 — Bill Walker knocks one down to keep the Knicks in the game. Walker didn't see much playing time at the end of the Celtics' bench, but he's become an impact player since being traded to the Knicks for Nate Robinson.
The C's still lead, but the Knicks are keeping this game close in the second quarter.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-20: The Celtics start slow, but they turn it on in a big way. It's a 21-5 Boston run to close the first quarter, and the C's now hold a solid seven-point lead.
The C's close the quarter with an incredibly small lineup: Pierce at the center position alongside Rondo, Robinson, Allen and Von Wafer. Basically a five-guard unit.
Doc Rivers needs some way of matching up with the young, athletic Knicks. Apparently this is the best idea he's got.
First quarter, 2:35, Celtics 21-18: Now it's a 15-3 run for the Celtics midway through the first quarter, highlighted by seven points from Paul Pierce.
The C's have been super streaky, but they have the lead, and now they just need to their bench guys to hold it for a little while. Looks like Davis, Pierce, Daniels, Rondo and Nate Robinson will take the floor to finish the first quarter.
First quarter, 3:45, 16-16: The Celtics rattle off a lightning-quick 10-1 run to tie the game, capped off by a pair of Ray Allen free throws. The Celtics' early-game jitters appear to be completely gone.
Interesting development here: Over the last two minutes, the Celtics have subbed out Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett for Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels. This is an incredibly small Celtic lineup, with Davis at the center position and Paul Pierce as the de facto power forward. Can the C's get rebounds over Amare Stoudemire?
First quarter, 5:38, Knicks 15-8: It's a wonder the Celtics are in this game at all. They committed six turnovers in their first six minutes, and their defensive effort looks mediocre at best.
Doc Rivers needs to call a timeout and talk some sense into these guys. They don't look focused at all, mentally or physically. They're making careless mistakes — getting to rebounds but dropping them, overpassing, taking sloppy, off-balance shots. This isn't pretty.
First quarter, 8:51, Knicks 9-2: It takes the Celtics nearly three minutes to get on the scoreboard, and when Rajon Rondo finally breaks through for a driving layup, Raymond Felton one-ups him by knocking down a 3 in his face.
The Knicks are dominating this one early.
First quarter, 9:45, Knicks 6-0: One Celtic is really playing like he wants this one: Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq just took a hard charge from his former Phoenix teammate, Amare Stoudemire.
The rest of the C's still need to dial up the physicality a notch or two. They've been slow to get going.
First quarter, 10:40, Knicks 4-0: The Knicks start the game strong. Very strong.
So far all we've seen from the Celtics is a turnover, an illegal defense call, and a desperate foul from Kevin Garnett to keep Timofey Mozgov from an easy layup.
The Celtics need to work harder for this.
7:35 p.m.: The TD Garden faithful give a nice warm ovation to Rajon Rondo before tipoff, as the Celtics' point guard is given an award for leading the NBA in steals last season with 189.
Doc Rivers presents a commemorative plaque to Rondo, who also cracked the NBA's All-Defense first team for the first time.
Rondo and the Celtics are seconds away from tipping off against the Knicks.
7 p.m.: The Celtics are ready to move on from Delontegate, and they've got a game to play. A few updates on said game…
-Both teams are sticking with their same starting lineups — that means Shaquille O'Neal takes the floor for the Celtics, while youngsters Timofey Mozgov and Landry Fields get their shot for the Knicks.
-Jermaine O'Neal will be inactive. He's been battling various injuries all October, and Doc Rivers has elected to let him sit this one out.
-In O'Neal's place, you'll see Luke Harangody active for the first time. There's a good chance that the Notre Dame alum makes his regular-season NBA debut.
That's all for now. Opening tip coming up.
6 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Von Wafer is already on the floor 90 minutes prior to game time, getting up shots and preparing for Celtics-Knicks. He looks ready to go.
We'll have updates shortly on Wafer, Delonte West, and the state of the Celtics heading into game three of the NBA season. Stay tuned.
4:15 p.m.: This Delonte West saga has been an developing story all day. The latest out of the Celtics' camp is that Delonte West isn't going anywhere.
Celtics executive Danny Ainge has cleared the air and said "We're not releasing Delonte," quashing a notion put out there earlier Friday by HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy.
"There was an altercation," Ainge told the Boston Globe, "and we just handled it internally."
It'll be interesting to see how Von Wafer handles himself tonight — how he conducts himself in the locker room, whether Doc Rivers lets him play, how he plays if given the chance. The Celtics have dismissed a few rumors, but lots of question marks still abound.
8 a.m.: The city of New York has waited a long time to see a winning basketball team.
The Knicks had gone 23 months without ever owning a record above .500 — the last time they had a winner even momentarily, it was on Nov. 22, 2008, when new coach Mike D'Antoni led them to a 7-6 mark early in the season.
That streak came to an end Wednesday, thanks in large part to a double-double from the Knicks' newest superstar, Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire dropped 19 points and 10 rebounds on the Raptors in a 98-93 season-opening victory, celebrating his first game reunited with D'Antoni after five years together in Phoenix.
But the Knicks have drawn a tougher challenge for Game 2 than the hapless Raptors. They're coming to Boston to take on the defending Eastern Conference champs. Amare and the Knicks take on Kevin Garnett and the 1-1 Celtics at 7:30 p.m.
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