Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 93, Celtics 96
Knicks 93, Celtics 96
For the second consecutive game, the Celtics needed to hit a big shot with less than 20 seconds remaining in order to avoid a brutal loss at home. For the second consecutive game, they delivered in that do-or-die situation.
Jared Jeffries had just put home a crowd-silencing layup after two consecutive offensive rebounds by the Knicks and New York led 93-92 with 19.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Celtics were in the midst of a timeout that would lead to their most critical possession of the game. Doc Rivers was fresh off of drawing up two consecutive perfect plays out of timeouts in Game 1, which combined to win that game, and he was ready to do so again. But where would he turn to for this clutch basket, after turning to Ray Allen for the game-winner on Sunday night?
"We drew up the play and it was for Kevin (Garnett) or Paul (Pierce)," Rivers said after the game. "If they tried to deny the ball to Paul, I told Rondo, then that means that Kevin has to be open because there’s only a certain amount of bodies on the floor."
Rivers must have his master's degree in Psychics.
The Knicks did deny the ball to Pierce near the top of the key, and that did, indeed, leave Garnett open in the deep left post against Jeffries. Rondo spotted that matchup and immediately tossed the ball in to Boston's best low-post scorer.
Once Garnett touched the ball, there was no doubt that he was shooting it. He pounded the ball into the parquet a couple of times and bullied Jeffries' lanky, 6-foot-11 body back toward the rim as he made his approach toward the middle of the paint. When no help came from any other defenders - because, let's be serious, the Knicks did not want to leave Pierce or Ray Allen open - KG rose up and tossed a pretty jump-hook as he twisted his body from right to left in the center of the lane. The high-arcing shot splashed perfectly through the net to give Boston a 94-93 lead, and the Knicks called their final timeout with 13.3 seconds remaining in the game.
Boston, and Garnett in particular, had done its work to jump ahead by one point, but there was still work to do at the other end of the floor. Carmelo Anthony, who finished with a ridiculous 42 points and 17 rebounds, was nearly unstoppable all night long and there was no doubt that he was going to touch the ball on the final possession for New York. In his mind, however, he was almost certain that he wouldn't take the shot.
"I knew they was going to double-team, without a doubt," Anthony said after the game. "For the last two minutes they were double-teaming every time I got the ball. After the timeout, I knew 100 percent they was going to double-team, that’s why I let some of the time go off the clock before I got the ball."
Then he went and got the ball, and what do you think happened next? He was swarmed by a double-team.
Glen Davis flew over to Anthony on the right wing, just in front of Boston's bench, to join Pierce on a double-team. The Knicks' superstar then tossed the ball away to the perfect location, a wide-open Jeffries, who was down on the right block. That "wide-open" description didn't last long, though.
Garnett, who finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year award voting this season, rotated perfectly over to Jeffries and denied him a shot attempt. As Jeffries stood under the basket, he looked to his left and saw Bill Walker streaking down the lane for what would have been a simple layup had Walker been given the pass.
Jeffries attempted that pass, but it never reached its destination. Instead, Garnett delivered another clutch play by sticking his left hand out and deflecting the pass. KG then dove on the floor along the baseline and grabbed the loose ball, which led to an eventual Celtics timeout with 4.1 seconds remaining in the game.
Boston went on to inbound the pass in the backcourt to Delonte West, which caught the Knicks completely off guard, and he dribbled the clock down to 0.6 seconds before he was finally fouled by Anthony. West drilled both free throws to seal the game and send the Celtics off to New York with a 2-0 series lead.
Key Box Score Line
Rajon Rondo had a career night in one respect, a career playoff-best night in another and an overall dominant performance that helped the Boston Celtics take a 2-0 series lead over the New York Knicks.
Boston's point guard used his speed in the open court throughout tonight's game and finished with a soft touch around the basket. He scored 14 of his playoff career-high 30 points in the first quarter. Rondo finished the night with 23 shot attempts, which surpassed his previous career high of 20 shots that had been taken four times in his career).
Rondo's 14 points in the first quarter set the tone for tonight's game and helped the Celtics open up a 10-point advantage in the first frame. He scored 10 of Boston's initial 12 points of the contest.
While he made a major impact on the game with his scoring around the basket, Rondo also contributed solid numbers in his other regular categories as well. He finished the contest with four rebounds, a game-high seven assists and also grabbed two steals away from the Knicks.
We're not sure if he was licking his chops all afternoon heading into tonight's game with Chauncey Billups listed as doubtful, but Rondo certainly came out as the aggressor and it carried the Celtics through the finish line.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce played a game-high 45:01.
- Four Celtics finished with at least four fouls, while only two Knicks racked up that many personals.
- Amar'e Stoudemire scored only four points in 17:39 of play. He left with back spasms and did not return in the second half.
- Rajon Rondo took a career-high 23 shots tonight.
- Those shots led to a playoff career-high, and season-high, 30 points.
- Carmelo Anthony had a dominant game with 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.
- Kevin Garnett notched another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, including his game-winning basket with less than 20 seconds remaining.
- Anthony, Paul Pierce, Jermaine O'Neal and Jared Jeffries tied for the game-high in blocks with two apiece.
- Each team blocked five shots.
- Anthony attempted a game-high 30 shots, nearly twice as many as the next-highest Knicks player, who was Toney Douglas with 16 attempts.
- Paul Pierce scored 20 points but shot just 8-of-18 from the field.
- Conversely, Ray Allen scored his 18 points on just eight shot attempts, six of which were made.
- New York had two bench players and four players overall grab at least six rebounds. Meanwhile, only two Celtics accomplished that feat.
- Boston's largest lead was 11, while New York's was only four.
- New York (24) scored four-times as many second-chance points as Boston (six).
- Boston (16) scored four-times as many fast break points as New York (four).
- Outside of Anthony, the rest of the Knicks shot just 18-of-60 from the field.
- New York outrebounded Boston 53-37.
- The Knicks grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in the game.
- New York made five more free throw (21) than Boston attempted (17).
- Neither team committed more than 13 turnovers.
- Allen finished with a game-high three steals.
- Former Celtic Bill Walker shot 0-for-11 from the field to aid Boston's win.
Quote of the Night
After being asked to comment on the game by "Carmelo," who recorded game-highs of 42 points and 17 rebounds, Doc Rivers replied: "Carmelo Anthony? Do I have to? He was pretty – he was pretty good."