Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 89, Celtics 91

Ford Keys to the Game

Knicks 89, Celtics 91

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce sends the TD Garden into hysteria after drilling a wild 3-pointer in the final minute that was eventually ruled no good.
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

A Friday night game in TD Garden against the star-studded New York Knicks. A game like this is supposed to be a 10 out of 10 on the Excitement Scale, isn’t it?

Well it certainly was, and the Boston Celtics wound up sneaking out of their home arena with a 91-89 victory over New York. It was a barnburner in the fourth quarter and the C’s needed several plays to go their way, but they fought through the challenge and delivered a huge win.

Many of the plays that took place down the stretch played enormous roles in the result of this game, but make no mistake about it: those plays don’t even matter if Boston doesn’t come together at the end of the third quarter and plain old outhustle the Knicks.

The stretch I’m referring to began with 1:46 left in the third, when Doc Rivers substituted Avery Bradley and Ray Allen in for Rajon Rondo and Mickael Pietrus. When those two players made their way onto the court to join Chris Wilcox, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the complexity of this game completely changed. Bradley and Wilcox were the two players who had their effort singled out by Rivers after the game.

"I thought Chris Wilcox was the hero," Rivers said after the game. "Him and Avery, their defensive intensity changed the game."

Those players, along with the rest of the crew on the floor, took the intensity to another notch and it paid off. Boston grabbed four offensive rebounds in the final 1:32 of the third, and those boards led to seven consecutive points. Wilcox put home four of those points and Paul Pierce chipped in a 3-pointer.

The resurgence of the C’s over those final two minutes helped them turn a 10-point deficit into a one-possession game heading into the fourth quarter. Boston chopped the deficit down to three by scoring seven consecutive points in just 1:29 of play.

Without that run, the Celtics don’t win this game. Without that run, the Garden crowd doesn’t wake up and cheer its players to the finish line. Without that run, Boston heads into Sunday’s matchup with the Grizzlies on a losing note.

But we don’t need to worry about all of that, do we? The run happened, and now the Celtics have won eight of their past 10 games.

Key Box Score Line

Paul Pierce might be able to call this spot his second home pretty soon. He lands here yet again after a phenomenal performance tonight that included a game-high 30 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

It’s not easy to log those numbers on a normal night in the NBA; it’s even more difficult to log them when you’re facing off against one of the best scorers this league has to offer. Pierce didn’t allow Carmelo Anthony’s prowess to slow him down tonight, though, as he wound up leading the game in scoring and found other ways to contribute, too. Pierce drilled four of his 10 shots from downtown and made a game-high 10 free throws on 12 attempts.

Doc Rivers said after the game that tonight’s contest was different than most because he just couldn’t get a feel for which of his players actually felt good. Pierce’s box score would beg to differ. He must have had it going, because he strung together the best overall performance of the night.

Box Score Nuggets

  • After scoring 55 points in the first half, the Knicks scored just 34 in the second half.
  • New York scored 17 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
  • Paul Pierce led the game in scoring with 30 points.
  • The Knicks attempted just four free throws in the second half.
  • Boston outrebounded the Knicks 40-37.
  • Kevin Garnett grabbed a team-high eight boards and also scored 15 points.
  • Tyson Chandler (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Amar'e Stoudemire (16 points, 11 rebounds) were the only players in the game to record double-doubles.
  • Boston scored 24 second-chance points.
  • New York's reserves combined to log just nine points, seven rebounds and one assist.
  • Boston's reserves logged 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
  • New York actually made more field goals, 34, than Boston did (31).
  • Chris Wilcox grabbed four boards in the game, and all of them came at the offensive end. He also scored six points.
  • Each team was whistled for a technical foul, and each team had one player whistled for a tech as well.
  • The Celtics grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in the game
  • Rajon Rondo returned to the lineup and led the game in assists with seven.
  • Boston committed 20 turnovers that led to 23 points for New York.
  • Pierce attempted a game-high 12 free throws and made 10 of them.
  • Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points.

Quote of the Night

Carmelo Anthony on the final play of the game: "My mind is blank right now. I can’t even remember that last play. I don’t know what happened."