Paul Pierce scored 30 points and Ray Allen had nine of his 14 in the final quarter to lift the Celtics to a 91-89 win over the struggling Knicks on Friday night.
Hanging close until they finally caught New York midway into the final quarter, Celtics coach Doc Rivers kept telling his team that it would be defense that would make the difference.
It was. On the Knicks' final two possessions, it was players other than Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire that were forced to take the final two shots.
"I just said, 'Guys, our defense is bailing us out. This is going to be a defensive win,'" Rivers said. "You rarely say you 'steal a game' at home, but that's how it felt."
Kevin Garnett finished with 15 points and eight boards for the Celtics, who won for the seventh time in eight games.
Anthony scored 26, Tyson Chandler had 20 with 11 rebounds and Stoudemire had 16 with 11 rebounds for the Knicks. New York lost for the 11th time in 13 games.
"They were doubling and doing a good job. That's why other guys had to step up and make shots." New York coach Mike D'Antoni said about his team's final two shots.
Boston got the win despite shooting just 38.9 percent in the second quarter and 31.8 in third.
"It's good when you find way to win," Pierce said. "Things really weren't going our way."
Garnett grabbed his 10,000th career defensive rebound early in the second quarter, becoming the third player in NBA history to reach that mark. He's behind former Celtic Robert Parish (10,117) and Karl Malone (11,406).
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo returned after missing the previous eight games with a right wrist injury, but was ineffective, scoring just seven points and getting seven assists.
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