Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 101, Knicks 89
Celtics 101, Knicks 89
The brooms came out in Madison Square Garden on Easter Sunday because the New York Knicks decided to dance with fire. One thing you don’t want to do is fire up the Boston Celtics, but the Knicks’ two biggest stars chose pride over intelligence.
Delonte West chased Landry Fields down from behind and fouled New York’s rookie shooting guard as he attempted a fast break layup. Though West simply swung for the ball and made minimal contact from behind, Fields’ momentum made the two players’ collision look much worse than it actually was.
As the referee's whistle was blown, calling a personal foul on West, Fields fell hard to the floor and slid past the basket stanchion. The crowd in MSG rose to and took exception to the foul and the tension in the building grew to its highest level of the night. It nearly went over the top just seconds later when Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony ran up to West from behind and simultaneously shoved him backward.
It was a statement move by New York’s top two players. They were coming to their teammates’ defense and telling West and the Celtics that they would not tolerate any bullying (though, as we said, the foul was not as malicious as it looked). The problem is that their response to the foul prompted the Celtics to perk up. New York had officially awoken the giant that is the Boston Celtics.
Stoudemire and West were each assessed a technical foul after the quick scrum was broken up, and Fields wound up hitting one of his two free throws. While those free throws were being attempted, Doc Rivers decided to bring his team’s captain back into the game, and that may have been his greatest move of the night.
Pierce walked onto the floor and pulled his four teammates into a quick huddle and likely told them to keep their cool and turn on the jets. That’s exactly what they did, because the C’s immediately answered Fields’ one made free throw with a bomb from downtown by Ray Allen. That 3-pointer, at the 6:50 mark of the second quarter, put Boston ahead by 12 points, which was its largest lead of the night to that point.
The Knicks weren’t able to score on their next possession and West took control of the ball at Boston’s end of the court. His body language wreaked of confidence, somewhat stating that he couldn’t be intimidated by New York’s shoves either. As he faced up on his defender on the right wing, he created enough space and fired up a jumper to put Boston ahead by 14 points.
That quick 5-0 run that immediately followed the altercation under New York’s basket swung all of the momentum into the Celtics’ favor. They continued to build that lead as the second period progressed, and their advantage eventually reached 19 points before the half ended when Jeff Green put home an and-one driving layup in the paint.
Just as was expected, the Knicks eventually made a run and cut Boston’s lead down to four in the fourth quarter, but it was that huge lead that gave the C’s enough cushion to hold on. Boston’s largest lead of the game was 23 points, and if it hadn’t grown to that size after the second-quarter altercation, those brooms may have been left in the closet.
Key Box Score Line
For the fourth time in this four-game series, the Boston Celtics had a new man play the role of dominant force. Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring in the first three games of this series, respectively, and Kevin Garnett stepped into that position this afternoon.
Garnett notched his third double-double of the series by scoring 26 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Game 4. He shot fantastic from the field, nailing 10 of his 16 attempts, and hit several big buckets for Boston down the stretch as the C’s stemmed New York’s final run.
As he always does, KG got it done in some of the most important areas of the game. His defense in the paint led to two blocked shots while several others were altered. He chased down four offensive rebounds, taking his series total in that category up to 15. He also pitched in an assist and a steal and shot 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
When the Celtics needed a big bucket tonight, they chose to go to the Big Ticket. He delivered with a series-ending performance, and that gives the C’s an opportunity to rest for nearly a full week heading into Game 1 of their second round series.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kevin Garnett led the Celtics in points (26) and rebounds (10).
- Rajon Rondo's 12 dimes were three-times more than any Knicks player's total. Anthony Carter led New York with four assists.
- Rondo also scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
- Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 32 points.
- Boston outrebounded New York 53-42.
- Amar'e Stoudemire grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
- The Celtics committed 18 turnovers that led to 16 points for New York.
- The Knicks shot just 34.1 percent from the field.
- Both teams shot 75 percent from the free-throw line (18-of-24 for Boston, 21-of-28 for New York).
- Boston's largest lead was 23, while New York's was just two.
- Anthony and Stoudemire combined to attempt 23 of New York's 28 free throws.
- Every Celtics player who played in the game grabbed at least five rebounds.
- Rondo committed a game-high six turnovers.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on his team: "We do some things that are a little nuts but they have a way to play together and they trust each other and as a coach that is all you can ask for."