Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics at Knicks (preseason)
Celtics 104, Knicks 101
This game had everything. It had an ejection. It had 3-pointers. It had scrappiness. It had a 30-point scorer. It had a whole lot of other things, too. But the one ingredient this game had which holds the most significance is a game-winning shot, and it was hit by Paul Pierce.
As the Celtics and Knicks battled back and forth in the second half, with each team grabbing numerous leads, no one knew how the game would play out. The course of the game was so unpredictable, with players such as Luke Harangody starring, that it was conceivable that a shocker would occur at some point. And it did. Kind of.
Pierce has made his name by hitting clutch shots throughout his career. He is, after all, The Truth. But on this night, when he shot just 5-of-13 from the floor before his final shot of the game and finished with five turnovers, he wasn’t quite the man you’d expect to drill the biggest shot of the game like it was a stroll in the park. At the same time, though, he was, because you can never discount a Hall of Famer, especially one who jokingly calls himself the greatest shooter of all time.
The Celtics had a chance to take the lead with just inside of a minute left, but Pierce couldn’t handle an alley-oop pass to him that resulted in a turnover. The good news for Boston is that at the other end, the Knicks gave the ball right back when Luke Harangody, who shined all night long, stole the ball from Anthony Randolph. At that point, the C’s knew exactly where they were going. They wanted some Truth syrup.
Pierce dribbled the ball up court and set up shop just to the right of the top of the key, exactly where he always does in these isolation situations. He jab-stepped on Randolph, his defender, and faded back to 22 feet, which is about five feet deeper than his patented right elbow jumper, and pulled up for a smooth swish that was a no-doubter all the way.
The shot put Boston ahead 103-101 and the Celtics sealed the game when Rondo blocked Andy Rautins’ 3-point attempt, Pierce tacked on another free-throw and Ronny Turiaf went 0-for-2 from the line in the final seconds.
Key Box Score Line
Many thought Tuesday night was Luke Harangody’s breakout night, when he scored 11 points and had three rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers. But tonight, in the wake of Kevin Garnett being ejected, Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis both not playing and Semih Erden lingering in foul trouble, Harangody stepped up to the plate with a performance Big East fans grew accustomed to during his collegiate career.
He played a career-high 21-plus minutes and was a game-changer for nearly every second of them. Harangody finished the game with 16 points, 12 rebounds (four offensive) and two steals, including the one that set up Pierce’s game-winning shot. His efficiency was just as impressive as the raw stats, as he shot 4-of-9 from the floor, 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The C’s didn’t need their regular big men tonight because Harangody was a terror for the opposition. And if he can keep up that type of play, it’s going to be hard to keep him on the bench come the regular season.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
- Ray Allen led Boston in scoring with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-7 from downtown.
- Kevin Garnett started the game hot with six points, three boards and two assists, but was ejected in the second quarter due to two technical fouls.
- Four technicals were whistled in a span of 16 seconds in the second period.
- Amar'e Stoudemire finished with a game-high 30 points and shot a ridiculous 9-of-13 from the floor and 12-of-15 from the free-throw line.
- Bill Walker scored 11 points against his former teammates.
- Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points, seven assists and six steals.
- Rondo has recorded exactly seven assists in all four preseason games he has played in.
- Luke Harangody came off the bench and notched 16 points and 12 rebounds.
- New York attempted 42 free-throws compared to only 28 from Boston.
- The Celtics outrebounded the Knicks 47-36.
- The teams combined to attempt 57 3-pointers (26 for New York, 21 for Boston).
- Nearly 20,000 fans attended the game.
- Jermaine O'Neal fouled out of the game in just under 20 minutes of playing time.
Quote of the Night
Paul Pierce on hitting the game-winning shot: "Basically I had an 11 o’clock reservation I had to make (laughs). We didn’t want to stay any longer. We wanted to get this over with."