Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 101, Celtics 105

Ford Keys to the Game

Knicks 101, Celtics 105

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Landry Fields, Rajon Rondo

The man of the night, Rajon Rondo, peers over his shoulder as Landry Fields of the Knicks hovers in the air above him.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

With so many plays and spurts to choose from in such an entertaining game tonight in the TD Garden, it’s difficult to pinpoint one that completely altered the game. There’s one, however, one that stands out. But the reason it stands out isn’t because it changed the momentum or course of the game, or because it put important points on the scoreboard. Instead, this play stands out because it prevented something even more monumental from happening.

The Celtics’ second half of play was inspiring, dominant and energetic. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were owning the Knicks, which makes you think that one of them would wind up playing an important role in this section. But they won’t, because this play was made by a backup small forward who just so happened to be playing center at the time.

A trio of Boston big men – none of which are the player spoken about in the previous sentence – combined for 50 points and 23 rebounds tonight against an undersized Knicks team. The problem is that by the time the final 36.6 seconds of the game rolled around, none of them were available. Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis had fouled out, and Shaquille O’Neal had disappeared back into the locker room for an undisclosed reason. So the Celtics were forced to play small – very small – with Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo at the guards, Ray Allen at small forward, Paul Pierce at power forward and... Marquis Daniels at center. Great move, Doc. No, really.

After Pierce drilled two free throws to put Boston up by four with 15.4 seconds left, the Knicks threw up a desperation 3-pointer that would have cut the lead to one. It seemed as if all of their desperation shots were falling, but this one was array. Luckily for them, though, Amar’e Stoudemire, who was playing center and had just swished a trey less than 10 seconds earlier, grabbed the rebound. He dribbled back behind the line and lifted up for another attempt from downtown, but that miniature center who usually plays small forward, Daniels, rose up to block the shot from Stoudemire’s right side. Daniels took the loose ball, made his way across half court and dribbled the clock out for the win.

The blocked shot was huge because had Stoudemire’s shot fallen, the lead would have been cut to one and the Knicks certainly would have had a final chance at tying or winning the game after the Celtics would have taken two imminent free throws. The issue there is that if the Knicks would have possibly forced overtime, Boston would have had not a single natural big man who had played a second in the game available for that extra stanza, a clear disadvantage and probable recipe for a loss. But we didn’t have to worry about that issue, because Daniels, the prototypical team player, stepped into his missing big men’s shoes and made a big man-type play to save the day.

Key Box Score Line

This was a night of numbers. Two teams scoring better than 100 points. Three 20-point scorers. Four double-digit rebounders. Forty-three 3-point attempts. Eleven players scoring in double figures. There are so many numbers that were accrued in this game, but there is one that stood out: 24 assists.

In the brilliant young career of Rajon Rondo, there has never been a night like tonight. Heck, we’re not sure if there has ever been a night like tonight, period. Rondo put up insane numbers to the point where you’ll have to take a double-take when you hear them.

How about a triple-double of 10 points, 24 assists and 10 rebounds for a 6-foot-1 guard? Yeah, exactly. You can pick your jaw up now.

Rondo’s previous regular season career high of 18 assists and as his postseason career high of 19 assists were smashed tonight. His total of 24 dimes fell just four short of the historic Celtic single game record of 28 held by Bob Cousy, who reached the mark on Feb. 27, 1959. I can’t promise you, but I bet you he didn’t have a triple-double in that game. He also fell just six shy of the NBA’s all-time single game assist mark of 30, which is held by Scott Skiles.

Needless to say, tonight may not be a record-setting night, but it was a historic night. Rajon Rondo has arrived, ladies and gentlemen, and it is now officially the Big Four.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Three Celtics recorded double-doubles, including one that was also a triple double: Paul Pierce with 25 points and 14 rebounds, Kevin Garnett with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Rajon Rondo with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 24 assists.
  • Rondo's 24 assists were four shy of the Celtics' single game record and six shy of the NBA's all-time record.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 27 points.
  • Garnett and Glen Davis both fouled out of the game.
  • Davis scored 16 points to go along with six rebounds off the bench. He shot 7-of-12 from the floor.
  • New York attempted 27 3-pointers, making nine.
  • Wilson Chandler scored 19 points off the bench for the Knicks.
  • New York's top rebounder was its starting shooting guard, Landry Fields. He grabbed 10 boards.
  • The Knicks made as many free throws (18) as the Celtics attempted (18).
  • Boston outrebounded New York by 16 (54-38).
  • Shaquille O'Neal notched 10 points to go along with seven rebounds.
  • New York's 10 total turnovers were less than the Celtics committed in the first half (11).
  • Boston's entire bench did not score more points than Garnett or Pierce did individually.
  • Garnett has started the season out with three double-digit rebound games.
  • Rondo's 24 assists were four times more than New York's leading assist man, Raymond Felton, notched with his six.
  • The Knicks racked up nine blocked shots to the Celtics' one.

Quote of the Night

Kevin Garnett on Rajon Rondo: He was amazing…we all know that he is an influence on the game and tonight…ah man...stats are one thing but the influence and how he controls the game is another...there’s very few in the game that can do it. He’s a special player man."