Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 111, Celtics 115

Ford Keys to the Game

Knicks 111, Celtics 115

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce fires up the game-tying 3-pointer that fell through the net with 4.9 seconds left in regulation.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The New York Knicks were well on their way to stealing a win Sunday afternoon in TD Garden.

Then Paul Pierce stole it back.

The Knicks trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half but turned the game around in the final minutes of the third quarter. They actually held a 103-100 lead in with 18.1 seconds remaining in the game after Steve Novak hit two clutch free throws.

There wasn't a whole lot of hope for the Celtics at that point. New York had all of the momentum and Boston had its hands tied behind its back with no timeouts. That meant Doc Rivers couldn’t huddle up his players to draw up one of his patented out-of-timeout plays in an attempt to tie the game up.

So what did Rivers do instead? He kept it simple from the sideline with the following advice: “We just told our guys to keep handing it off until somebody got free.”


His players followed those instructions and the ball wound up in Pierce’s hands just to the right of the top of the key, nearly 30 feet from the basket. Boston’s offensive movement had also resulted in rookie Iman Shumpert defending Pierce as the clock ticked under 10 seconds.

And so the table was set: The captain with the ball in crunch time as a rookie defended him. We all know who wins that situation more times than not.

Pierce squared up to the basket and fired up a 27-foot 3-pointer that felt like it took 10 seconds to reach the basket. As it soared through the air, the most important game of the season for both teams hung in the balance. When it finally reached the rim, it rattled around, fell through the net and sent the Garden faithful into hysteria.

Tie ball game. Overtime.

No. 34 had delivered a miracle 3-pointer that eventually sent this game into an extra five-minute frame and deposited all of the momentum in Boston’s back pocket. Pierce had just missed a potential game-winning shot about 15 seconds earlier, but as he indicated after the game, he wasn’t about to shy away from another clutch shot attempt.

“I had another opportunity, another crack at it,” he said, “and you know I always say if at first you don’t succeed, try again.”

He succeeded on his second attempt and it led to Boston's fourth straight win.

Key Box Score Line

Paul Pierce delivered on the role of hero during today’s game, but Rajon Rondo played the role of stat stuffer.

Rondo recorded his fourth triple-double of the season in amazing fashion. This wasn’t just a triple-double – it was a monster triple-double. He scored 18 points to go along with his game-high totals of 17 rebounds and 20 assists. He also committed only four turnovers, leading to a shining assist-to-turnover ratio of 5-to-1.

The performance forced statisticians everywhere to look back in the history books to see how it stacks up against other triple-doubles of the past. Although we don’t have those comparisons handy at the moment, we can say that Rondo’s game was historic enough to cause Kevin Garnett to take a copy of the box score home with him as a souvenir.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Four players in the game, two from each team, grabbed double-digit rebounds.
  • Boston, which averages just 75.7 field goal attempts per game, attempted 103 shots today.
  • None of Boston's reserves attempted a free throw.
  • Rajon Rondo scored 18 points to go along with game highs of 17 rebounds and 20 assists.
  • New York's bench outscored Boston's 45-15.
  • Pierce's game-high 34 points match his jersey number and his age.
  • All five of Boston's starters scored at least 12 points.
  • Three Knicks players, Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert, scored 14 points apiece.
  • Kevin Garnett logged 18 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Four of Boston's five starters played at least 40 minutes, while none of New York's players played more than 37:40.
  • Boston's 14 turnovers led to 14 points for New York. That was the second consecutive game in which its turnovers matched the number of points off of turnovers that it gave up.
  • The Knicks committed 22 turnovers that led to 23 points.
  • The teams combined to score 104 points in the paint.
  • The teams nearly shot identical percentages: 43.7 percent for Boston and 43.6 percent for New York.
  • New York totaled 23 assists and 23 fouls.
  • The Knicks' 16-point third quarter was the only time today that either team scored less than 23 points in a quarter.
  • Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 25 points and led the game with a 9-for-10 performance from the free-throw line.
  • Three of Boston's starters attempted at least 20 shots.
  • Tyson Chandler (14) and Amar'e Stoudemire (13) led the Knicks in rebounds.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on the importance of beating New York: "The biggest thing is [the Knicks] are getting confidence, and we didn't want that to grow against us."