Final: Celtics 96, Knicks 86. To win one road game with a comeback from down 15 points? That's impressive. To win two in a row? That's just astounding. The Celtics have strung together a two-game stretch to remember.
The C's beat the Knicks with a 24-4 run in crunch time, erasing the double-digit deficit with a gritty, gutsy, and literally bloody effort. The C's are now 3-0 against the Knicks this season.
Kevin Garnett finishes with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 steals. He gets the half steal for making an incredible diving play to force a jump ball with Amare Stoudemire late in the fourth quarter. That play swung the momentum of this game.
Paul Pierce adds 21 points. Rajon Rondo tells everyone where they can stick that "slump" talk, dropping a double-double with 13 points and 12 assists.
Carmelo Anthony scores 22 points and Chauncey Billups adds 21 in a losing effort.
The C's fly home Tuesday and then take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.
Fourth quarter, 40.1 seconds, Celtics 94-86: Wow. Paul Pierce hits one big shot, Toney Douglas throws up an airball, and then Ray Allen scores another huge bucket. The C's are up eight.
The Celtics have done it again, folks.
Fourth quarter, 2:22, Celtics 90-86: Now Carmelo Anthony is bleeding from above his eye. This is the goriest game of the year.
Melo apparently collided with Rajon Rondo going for a loose ball; Rondo came away with it, ran the floor and fed Glen Davis for a bucket inside. After the play, the Knicks called a timeout.
Melo is in some serious pain here.
Fourth quarter, 4:15, Celtics 86-82: The Celtics have taken the lead, and Kevin Garnett has made the hustle play of the century by diving for a loose ball with Amare Stoudemire. Jump ball.
After the officials have the floor rewaxed, KG wins the tip and the Celtics score again.
The C's are just dominating this fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 6:45, Knicks 82-78: Now it's Paul Pierce's turn to drain a big 3. The Celtics have gone on a 5-0 run, closing the gap once again.
Pierce is riled up. So is the Madison Square Garden crowd.
This has all the makings of a dramatic finish in the Big Apple.
Fourth quarter, 7:26, Knicks 82-73: First Amare Stoudemire delivers another hard elbow to Ray Allen, who looks very unhappy; then Chauncey Billups drains a 3 and draws a foul from Rajon Rondo.
Four-point play. Ugly turn of events for the Celtics, who are getting beaten up both literally and on the scoreboard.
Fourth quarter, 8:30, Knicks 78-69: The Knicks go on a lightning-quick 7-0 run in 91 seconds. So much for the Celtics keeping this thing close.
Doc Rivers isn't happy. He calls a timeout. He needs his guys to start getting stops again.
Fourth quarter, 10:01, Knicks 71-69: Delonte West just made the best pass I've seen in weeks, splitting two defenders with an entry to a cutting Jeff Green. Green finishes at the rim with ease.
The Celtics have cut the Knicks' lead from 15 all the way down to two.
Can they really do it again?
End of third quarter, Knicks 69-63: Two pieces of good news for the Celtics at the end of the first quarter. One, Ray Allen is back on the floor, with a bandage above his right eye. He should be good to go for the fourth quarter. And two, Delonte West just made a big play to cut the New York lead.
West recovers a loose ball, gets tripped up and draws a clear-path foul from Toney Douglas. He gets two shots and the ball with 6.2 seconds to play.
West makes one of two, and then on the final possession, Glen Davis gets a bucket inside. The Celtics snip the lead down from nine to six.
Kevin Garnett is leading the way for the Celtics with 18 points, nine rebounds, an assist and three steals.
Amare Stoudemire has 16 points, 10 rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal for the Knicks.
Will one of them take the game over in the fourth quarter? Don't bet against KG. He's fired up. He wants this one.
Third quarter, 2:45, Knicks 64-55: Ray Allen just got hit in the face, and he's bleeding something awful. This is not pretty.
The Celtics call a timeout, and head trainer Ed Lacerte rushes out there to check on Ray. Hopefully he'll be OK.
Third quarter, 5:49, Knicks 58-49: Paul Pierce shoves Amare Stoudemire under the basket going for a rebound. Amare falls to the ground, and Pierce gets whistled for his fourth foul.
The captain comes out in favor of Jeff Green.
Amare hits one of two free throws. The Celtics' deficit is back to nine.
Third quarter, 6:40, Knicks 56-47: Ronny Turiaf ends a long Knicks scoring drought with an emphatic dunk. But the momentum still belongs to Boston, as the Knicks' defense has not been up to par in this third quarter.
The C's have cut it to single digits, and they're still chugging along.
Get nervous, Spike.
Third quarter, 8:27, Knicks 54-45: Kevin Garnett is just brutalizing Amare Stoudemire. He's got eight points in the third quarter already.
Finally, the C's are showing some life and attacking the holes in the Knicks' defense. Took them long enough.
Third quarter, 11:46, Knicks 51-37: Carmelo Anthony calls for a timeout after 14 seconds of the second half. That's got to be some kind of record.
That'll give the C's a few extra seconds to map out a game plan for a comeback. They erased a 15-point deficit to win on Saturday in New Orleans — can they do nearly the same thing again?
Halftime, Knicks 51-37: The Celtics are beginning to figure something out: Carmelo Anthony makes a big, huge difference.
They were 2-0 against the Knicks earlier this year, but they're getting worked by the new-look Knicks post-Melo. The former Nugget has 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He's killing them.
Kevin Garnett has eight points and six boards for the Celtics; Paul Pierce has eight and two. It's not enough. They're getting slaughtered.
Second quarter, 2:53, Knicks 45-33: Nenad Krstic outworks Amare Stoudemire on the block, gets position and scores easily. It makes you wonder why the C's don't do that every time.
The Knicks have defensive liabilities all over the place, and yet the Celtics aren't capitalizing. They should be attacking Amare and Melo at every opportunity, but instead they look tentative.
That was Krstic's first field goal of the game. He should have five by now.
Second quarter, 5:50, Knicks 37-25: Another timeout. What a choppy second quarter this has been.
We're halfway through the second quarter, and the Celtics still only have one field goal, courtesy of Ray Allen.
The C's had 39 bench points on Saturday night; they have four so far in this one.
Second quarter, 6:17, Knicks 37-25: A Ray Allen turnover leads to a New York fast break, and Roger Mason chucks a 3 in transition. Swish.
The Knicks are now up 12. The crowd at MSG is loving it; Doc Rivers, not so much. He frustratedly calls for a 20-second timeout.
Second quarter, 7:28, Knicks 32-22: The Celtics are still scoreless in the second quarter. That's embarrassing.
This second unit isn't clicking. They can't space the floor, which means they can't get open looks, which means they can't score.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are headed back in. That should help matters a little bit.
Second quarter, 8:32, Knicks 30-22: Glen Davis is down. Looks like he took a hard elbow to the head from Carmelo Anthony.
That's gotta hurt. The C's call a full timeout to sort this one out.
This has not been a good second quarter for the Celtics, on the scoreboard or otherwise.
Second quarter, 10:06, Knicks 28-22: Troy Murphy was just getting his feet wet when he got scratched in the face. He's got a bloody streak running down his nose.
Murphy comes out; Nenad Krstic is back in.
It may take Murphy a while to find his rhythm in Celtic green. The setbacks just keep coming.
End of first quarter, Knicks 25-22: Finger injury be damned, Rajon Rondo is giving all he's got. He plays 11 of the game's first 12 minutes, finishing with four points, three assists and a rebound.
He looks a lot more active than he has been over the past week. That doesn't make up for the 8-for-37 shooting slump, but it's at least a little encouraging.
Amare Stoudemire leads the Knicks with nine points and four rebounds; Carmelo Anthony adds seven.
Kevin Garnett has six points, four rebounds and two steals for the Celtics.
First quarter, 2:46, 18-18: Chauncey Billups turns the ball over, and the Celtics turn a fast break into a quick slam dunk from Paul Pierce. Tie ballgame.
The C's have gotten six points each from Pierce and KG.
Glen Davis was the first man off the bench for Boston; Delonte West is about to be the second.
First quarter, 5:57, Knicks 14-12: Kevin Garnett hits another jumper. He's been big in this first quarter — 3-for-4 shooting, six points, two rebounds. KG's performance is making up for the tentative Rondo and the ice-cold Ray Allen.
No sign of any Spike Lee trash talk.
It's only the first quarter. Let's be patient.
First quarter, 6:55, Knicks 14-10: Chauncey Billups just knocked down a 3 in Rajon Rondo's face. If the Celtics have an advantage at the point guard position, they sure haven't proven it yet.
Rondo has been playing with a hurt finger for the last two weeks, and it's made him more tentative on both ends. The Knicks are taking advantage of that, attacking Rondo at every opportunity.
First quarter, 8:46, Knicks 7-6: The Celtics are starting out shaky from the field, missing four of their first six shots. But Ray Allen steps up and hits a jumper in transition here, cutting the Knicks' lead to one.
The C's don't yet look comfortable in their offense. They're moving too slowly, and all too often having to scramble for a bucket in the final seconds of the shot clock.
First quarter, 10:31, Knicks 2-0: Carmelo Anthony has the early advantage on Paul Pierce, driving past the Celtics' captain to the basket for the opening two points.
Both teams are working hard on the defensive end so far. Let's see how long that continues.
7:35 p.m.: In a moment, we'll get underway, and the Celtics will be gunning for their 50th win of the season.
Last year, they finished the year with 50; this time around, they could get there in mid-March. A little health and a little depth make a big difference.
Tipoff is coming up in just a moment.
5:45 p.m.: The Celtics are trotting out their usual starting five on Monday night against the Knicks, no doubt. But you can only wonder whether that unit really, truly at full strength.
Just how hurt is Rajon Rondo?
Rondo says he's got a jammed pinkie finger, but he says it's nothing serious and he's fine. Kevin Garnett says Rondo's really injured. Danny Ainge agrees. Doc Rivers told reporters before the game Monday that "I think he's fine" when asked about Rondo.
There's a big mess of opinions all jumbled together, and it's hard to tell who to believe. But either way, Rondo's playing, so he can't make any excuses.
8 a.m.: The Knicks think they're the Celtics' rivals. It's high time they proved it.
Amare Stoudemire and his cronies talked a lot of trash back in December, when they took an eight-game winning streak into their showdown with the C's at Madison Square Garden and nearly made it nine. But Paul Pierce made a clutch jumper in the final seconds, Amare's response came after the buzzer, and the Celtics recorded a big 118-116 win.
The C's are now 2-0 against the Knicks this season. Bragging rights are on the line, and they haven't budged one inch.
But then again, they're 0-0 against a revamped Knicks squad that includes Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and a newfound swagger. The Knicks are a few weeks away from beginning a playoff run with a roster jam-packed with star power, and they're pumped up in the Big Apple.
They're also 7-8 since the trade. So who knows what to expect?
The Celtics, for their part, are coming off an impressive win over the New Orleans Hornets, a comeback victory as they turned a 15-point deficit into an 89-85 win. They're tied for first place in the Eastern Conference and feeling pretty darn swaggery themselves.
The C's bench is stronger than it's been in a long time. Jeff Green is here, and he's joined by a healthy Glen Davis and Delonte West. Moreover, Shaquille O'Neal is on the road trip with them, indicating that he's also nearing a return.
The C's are healthy and ready to score another statement win. They've already beaten the Knicks twice this season, and they're looking for victory No. 3. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. from MSG.