The Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks 96–93 on Tuesday night in Boston to go up 2-0 in the NBA East first-round playoffs.
The Knicks, playing without stars Chauncey Billups and (for most of the game) Amare Stoudemire, put up a strong fight and very nearly took the win in the final minute but Boston's Kevin Garnett would sink the game-winning shot.
New York started without guard Billups, and lost Stoudemire—the leading Knicks scorer in Game 1—in the first half from injury. Stoudemire missed his first six shots of the game then retired to locker room. Later it was announced that his back spasms would prevent him from returning.
This left New York with not much bench back-up. Luckily for the Knicks, only Boston’s starting five seemed able to generate any offense or defense. When the Celtics starters were out, the Knicks ran rampant.
The first half was a contest between Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony. In the second half, Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce started hitting, and that was more—though not much more—than the Knicks could handle. “We have so many weapons,” Rondo told TNT after the game
Boston came out strong from at the start and dominated most of the first quarter. Rondo went end-to-end several times in the first quarter, scoring most of the Celtics’ points.
At the end of the quarter the Knicks seemed to wake up, and, led by Anthony, went on an 8-0 run to close the period down two, 23-21.
Anthony continued to lead the Knicks in the second quarter, scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds in the half. The whole Knicks team swarmed the boards; Boston couldn’t get a rebound at either end.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Knicks also couldn’t make a shot, and the Celtics could still play tight defense. This kept the game close. The Knicks went into the locker room up by one, 45-44.
Boston has historically dominated New York in the second half with smothering defense, and it looked as if the third quarter would follow this pattern. The Celtics again opened strong. Allen and Pierce started hitting from the 3-point line and Rondo kept driving to the hoop.
Anthony kept the Knicks in it with 14 more points, to bring the Knicks within seven at the end of the quarter.
Anthony also came out fighting in the fourth quarter. He started driving to the hoop, making shots and collecting fouls. Fatigue began to show as both teams made some sloppy plays—Anthony picked up two quick fouls for obvious holding.
Anthony got the Knicks a two-point lead with eight minutes to go, and then it was back and forth down the stretch. Players on both teams were diving for loose balls and fighting hard for rebounds. The Celtics wanted to win, and the Knicks, who haven’t won a playoff game in ten years, wanted it just as much.
With 19 seconds left, the Knicks were up one. Garnett then sank a jump hook giving the lead back to Boston, 94-93 with 13 seconds left. The Knicks inbounded the ball and got it to Jarrett Jeffries under the basket, with Garnett smothering him on defense. Garnett blocked Jeffries’ pass attempt, fell on the ball, and called time-out.
With the Celtics in possession and 4.4 seconds on the clock, all the Knicks could do was foul Delonte West as he brought the ball up. West made both shots giving the Celtics the 96–93 victory.
Game 3 will be at Madison Square Garden on Friday.