Carmelo Anthony does absolutely everything for the depleted Knicks down the stretch, finishing with 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. But the C's stand their ground, and they've got another win to show for it.
Rajon Rondo finishes with 30 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Paul Pierce adds 20. But the hero in the end is Kevin Garnett, who comes up with the big shot and the big steal to win the ballgame.
The Celtics now head down to New York for Game 3. They'll take the floor at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Fourth quarter, 4.1 seconds, Celtics 94-93: Now KG makes the play of the game on the defensive end. Jared Jeffries gets the ball in the post, KG steals it, and he holds on to call timeout.
What a play by KG.
The Celtics are on the verge of going up 2-0.
Fourth quarter, 13.3 seconds, Celtics 94-93: Kevin Garnett comes through with the go-ahead bucket, scoring right in Jeffries' face. So much for Jeffries being the hero.
Plenty of time left for the Knicks to steal this one, though.
Does Carmelo have one more big shot in him?
Fourth quarter, 19.3 seconds, Knicks 93-92: Jared Jeffries comes through. That's right — I said Jared Jeffries comes through.
Jeffries drives to the basket for a go-ahead layup. The Knicks are out in front.
Once again, the Celtics are forced to come up with a clutch basket in the final seconds.
Will Ray Allen come through again? Or will another Celtic emerge from the woodwork and take the big shot?
Fourth quarter, 49.0 seconds, Celtics 92-91: The Celtics are back in front.
Two free throws from Pierce, and a dunk from Kevin Garnett.
If the C's continue to get stops, they're in position to finish this thing and go up 2-0.
Something tells me Carmelo Anthony will have something to say about that.
Fourth quarter, 2:35, Knicks 91-88: Rajon Rondo is forced to take a 3 in the waning seconds of the shot clock; he misses. On the following possession, Carmelo Anthony does the same. He doesn't miss.
That's 42 for Melo.
He really might win this game all by himself. Pretty incredible.
Fourth quarter, 4:31, Celtics 88-86: Rajon Rondo takes the mid-range jumper with confidence.
He nails it.
That's 30 for Rondo. It's a lead for the Celtics. It's the 18th lead change of the game, and it probably won't be the last.
Fourth quarter, 6:28, Celtics 82-81: Rajon Rondo gets to the basket and scores on back-to-back possessions; Toney Douglas answers with a 3. So what does Rondo do? Attack the basket one more time, scoring for the third play in a row.
Rondo's now got 28 points, which is more than he scored in any game this season.
The Knicks keep leaving him wide open, and he keeps going right to the basket untouched. It just looks too easy.
Fourth quarter, 8:48, Celtics 76-74: Two quick fouls on Melo in a matter of seconds. He goes from two personal fouls to four.
That's worrisome for the Knicks. They want their star player to be as aggressive as possible down the stretch, but he might become hamstrung by foul trouble.
They can't take him out, that's for sure. He's their entire offense right now. He's got exactly half their points at the moment — 37 of 74.
Fourth quarter, 11:23, Celtics 74-70: Melo starts the fourth quarter with an offensive rebound, a putback and a foul. He's now got 33 points and 17 boards.
The Celtics can't stop him. Glen Davis and Jeff Green are doing all they can, but it just won't work.
End of third quarter, Celtics 74-67: Amare Stoudemire is done for the night, and it's up to Carmelo Anthony to win this game all by himself for the Knicks. And believe you me — he's trying.
Melo has 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting, plus 16 rebounds. He's doing absolutely everything in his power, but it doesn't look like one man can beat the Celtics alone.
The C's have gotten 22 points from Rajon Rondo, 18 from Ray Allen and 16 from Paul Pierce. Their bench has given them nothing — but who cares?
They're 12 mintues away from taking a 2-0 series lead down to New York.
Third quarter, 3:08, Celtics 67-61: Rajon Rondo goes right at Toney Douglas. No fear. Rondo gets the bucket, and the foul to boot.
Rondo's now got 22. The Celtics are attacking the Knicks relentlessly.
Third quarter, 4:57, Celtics 62-61: Bill Walker shoves Ray Allen away from the ball, and he gets T'd up; Jermaine O'Neal returns the favor by delivering a big push to Toney Douglas.
Not a smart move by J.O. That's his fourth foul.
The Celtics need him on the floor to continue protecting the rim. A couple easy buckets with him off the floor, and the Knicks can quickly get back in this game.
Third quarter, 6:54, Celtics 56-51: Ray Allen connects on a 3; two possessions later, Paul Pierce connects on another. It's a 12-3 run for the Celtics. The TD Garden has come to life.
The Knicks can't sustain what they're doing offensively. They've got to get someone else going besides Carmelo Anthony.
Third quarter, 9:26, Knicks 50-49: Rajon Rondo isn't just doing it in transition. He can create his own shot within the halfcourt offense, too. He's doing it all tonight.
Rondo gets to the basket for a layup. He's now got 20. The Knicks just can't stay in front of him.
Third quarter, 11:14, Knicks 48-44: Amare Stoudemire still hasn't returned from his back spasms, but the Knicks don't seem to mind. Carmelo Anthony nails a 3 on the opening possession, and the Knicks start the second half strong.
Carmelo's ready to go it alone.
This will be fun.
Halftime, Knicks 45-44: There are technically 10 guys on the floor, but in essence you're watching a one-on-one showdown between Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony. For the moment, Anthony has a slight lead.
The Knicks' superstar has already got a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, carrying the ballclub in the absence of teammates Chauncey Billups (knee) and Amare Stoudemire (who now has back spasms). Melo wants to win this game, but he might have to win it alone.
Rondo leads all scorers with 18 points. He's gotten a lot of cheap buckets in transition. Every Knicks mistake is turning into a fast break and a quick bucket.
The Celtics haven't gotten much from their second unit. They've got a 15-7 deficit in bench points so far.
Can they get a complete team effort in the second half? We'll see.
Second quarter, 3:22, Celtics 38-37: Rondo just keeps going and going. He's got 18 points, and the Celtics are back in front.
Toney Douglas can't stay in front of him. Nor can Anthony Carter. The Knicks have run out of answers.
Second quarter, 5:51, Knicks 35-34: Carmelo Anthony knocks down a 3, but Kevin Garnett comes right back and knocks down a mid-range shot off a Rondo assist.
Six points now for Garnett. Three assists for Rondo to go along with the 16 points.
KG is on a mission tonight. Amare Stoudemire may have talked a little too much trash for his own good.
Second quarter, 7:00, 32-32: Jermaine O'Neal has his wrist wrapped up, and he's back in the game. And he just made his first field goal, tying the game at 32.
It's been a nice back-and-forth second quarter. Neither side can establish control.
Second quarter, 8:51, 26-26: Rajon Rondo is back in the ballgame, and he's back to his attacking ways. He draws a foul, gets to the line and hits two shots.
Rondo's now got 16. He's 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Second quarter, 9:47, Knicks 26-24: This is just crazy. Amare Stoudemire is 0-for-6, and the Knicks just don't seem to care. They're on a 13-1 run, and they've taken the lead early in this second quarter.
The Celtics appear to have no offensive game plan besides Rondo's running game. What's the second option here?
End of first quarter, Celtics 23-21: The Knicks began the first quarter looking pretty ugly offensively, shooting 4-for-18, but they've made quite a comeback since. They're 4-for-7 since, on an 8-0 run to close the quarter.
Kevin Garnett has taken Amare Stoudemire out of the game (so much for that "no one on the Celtics can guard me" nonsense). But Carmelo Anthony has been the man for the Knicks so far — he's got nine points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks to make this competitive.
Rajon Rondo has 14 points to lead all scorers, but he's been sitting out for the last four minutes. The Celtics have to pace themselves with Rondo — he banged his knee in Game 1 and doesn't want to aggravate that injury.
First quarter, 2:59, Celtics 20-13: Jermaine O'Neal is headed for the locker room with team physician Brian McKeon by his side. He looks OK, though. Walking just fine on his own power.
Then again, Shaq can walk too. Doesn't mean he can play basketball.
First quarter, 3:44, Celtics 18-11: Rajon Rondo looks a little bit winded. Understandable — he's been running up and down the floor nonstop for eight minutes.
Doc Rivers yanks Rondo for Delonte West. He's also got Glen Davis in the game, replacing Jermaine O'Neal.
Rondo's got 14 points on eight shots.
First quarter, 4:52, Celtics 16-11: Another stop leads to another transition bucket for Rondo. Now he's got 12.
Rondo thrives against bad teams — when offenses make mistakes, he's got the athleticism to quickly turn those mistakes into easy points on the fast break. And so far, the Knicks have been pretty bad. They're shooting 4-of-15, and the Celtics are capitalizing all over the place.
First quarter, 6:33, Celtics 11-9: Toney Douglas drives to the basket, and Paul Pierce stuffs him. He deflects the shot, takes the ball away, and Ray Allen fires the perfect outlet pass to find Rajon Rondo down the floor for a layup.
Rondo now has nine points on 4-of-6 shooting.
The Celtics have 11 points so far in this game, and nine have come off the fast break. This is Rondo's kind of ballgame.
First quarter, 8:36, Knicks 4-3: The Celtics finally get their first field goal. They started the game 0-for-7, including getting two shots blocked, but now Rondo breaks through by driving the lane for a bucket.
The C's are on the attack early with Rondo. Without Chauncey Billups and his toughness out there, there's a golden opportunity to be seized.
First quarter, 10:27, Celtics 1-0: Landry Fields draws a foul from Ray Allen and gets to the line for two, but he misses both free throws. Then each team trades a pair of stops, and the Celtics finally break through as Rajon Rondo gets to the basket and draws a foul.
Rondo makes one of the two shots, and the C's draw first blood.
So far, you're looking at quite the defensive struggle.
7:05 p.m.: The pregame introductions are in the books. Two things to note: one, Toney Douglas has officially been announced as the Knicks' starter in place of Chauncey Billups, and two, Shaquille O'Neal is on the floor, looking sharp in a suit and tie. He appears to be walking well.
Maybe the big fella returns later in this series after all?
5:45 p.m.: As expected, there will be no Chauncey Billups. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said his point guard is definitely out Tuesday for Game 2, but remains day-to-day going forward.
Hats off to Billups for even trying to make a comeback. A strained knee can be a pretty serious injury. It can derail a guy for weeks or even months. If he comes back Friday or Sunday and makes an impact in this series, it would be quite a feat.
5 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where both teams are expected to be without a former NBA Finals MVP in Game 2 of the Celtics' first-round series against the Knicks.
Shaquille O'Neal (calf) definitely won't play. Chauncey Billups (knee) probably won't either.
Both teams will see their depth tested on Tuesday night. We'll see plenty of Glen Davis and Nenad Krstic on the Celtics' side, and the Knicks will lean heavily on Toney Douglas and Anthony Carter.
The Knicks gave up a lot of able bodies two months ago when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. How much do they miss them now?
2 p.m.: Mike D'Antoni isn't ready to definitively state that his point guard won't play Tuesday night, but he's darn close. Chauncey Billups is "almost out" for Game 2 against the Celtics, according to his coach.
That means we're going to see a lot of Toney Douglas on Tuesday night. Douglas may be young and relatively inexperienced, but he's got a couple feathers under his cap. He's already hit one big shot in this series — the go-ahead 3 that put the Knicks up 85-82 in Game 1 — and he'll be dying to hit another.
Anthony Carter will also see some time at the backup point. Suddenly, the forgotten throw-in from the Carmelo Anthony trade becomes relevant. Interesting.
8 a.m.: The New York Knicks had already played the Celtics six times this year — two in the preseason, and four in the regular season — before Sunday night's meeting in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Coach Mike D'Antoni says his team didn't really learn much from meeting No. 7.
"Nothing that we didn’t know before," he said. "I think that we can compete with them, obviously, and we need to get one win. [Game 1] would have been a great opportunity, but it didn’t work out.
"I've got to give them credit. They made big shots at the end. That’s why they are who they are."
Now it's on to Game 2. The Celtics dodged a bullet to win the series opener. They trailed by double digits for much of the night, and they needed absolutely everything to go right for them down the stretch — a miserable half of shooting for Carmelo Anthony, a no-show from Amare Stoudemire in the final minutes, a late injury to Chauncey Billups, a couple of questionable calls from the officials, a clutch jump shot by Ray Allen, and finally one last Melo miss with the game on the line. They've got a 1-0 series lead, but just barely.
The Knicks wanted to win one of two up in Boston. They may have missed their best chance. They've proven they can compete with the vaunted Celtics, but just competing isn't enough. Can they get a win?
The Knicks will likely be without Billups this time, as the point guard recovers from a strained left knee. The Celtics will definitely be without a Finals MVP of their own, as Shaquille O'Neal's calf injury continues to bog him down.
But everyone else is healthy, and they're sure to put on a show in Game 2. The Celtics and Knicks tip off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the TD Garden.
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