Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 102, Knicks 96
Have you heard the story about Paul Pierce and the ice in his veins? If you needed a reminder on the premise, Pierce gave you a clue Monday night.
The Celtics were on top 98-94 when they retained possession with one minute and nine seconds remaining in Friday’s game against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Boston needed a bucket in the final minute to take control of the contest, and Pierce provided it in dramatic fashion.
Pierce and Kevin Garnett ran a dribble-hand-off play on the perimeter in order to force the Knicks to switch into two mismatches. Garnett wound up being defended by Carmelo Anthony, while Pierce was defended by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler. Garnett’s matchup looked good, but Pierce wanted the ball in the clutch.
Pierce squared up Chandler on the left wing and made one of his patented moves toward the lane with a few shimmies and dribbles. He wanted to line himself up for his go-to shot, a step-back jumper from the elbow, but he couldn’t control the ball enough to make it happen. As a result, he turned to Plan B, which wound up working just fine.
Chandler played phenomenal defense on Pierce but Boston’s captain dribbled back to his left and was forced to fire up a 21-foot, step-back jumper from the left wing as the shot clock expired. Nothing. But. Net.
Pierce knew the shot was falling through the net from the second it left his hands. He backpedaled up the court, took a look at audience and blew a two-fingered kiss to the fans. He was back on Broadway, and he was the star of the show yet again.
Key Box Score Line
Without Kevin Garnett’s big-time performance Monday night there would not have been any heroics from Paul Pierce. Pierce played less than 28 minutes due to foul trouble, and while he was on the bench, it was Garnett carrying the load.
Garnett played nearly 38 of the game’s 48 minutes Monday night. He was fantastic on offense while notching 19 points on a solid 6-of-11 shooting, including everything from dunks to fadeaways to 20-foot jumpers. It was pretty to watch. When Garnett wasn’t scoring, he was busy down low grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds, which was four more than the next-best Celtic total. KG also tied Courtney Lee for the game high in steals with three rips.
The Celtics needed to lean heavily on Garnett Monday night and the Big Ticket responded. He played his heart out, outplayed the Knicks, and as a result, the C’s are flying back to Boston riding a three-game winning streak.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kevin Garnett (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyson Chandler (13 points, 17 rebounds) were the only players to notch a double-double.
- New York, which shot just 40.8 percent from the field, is the third consecutive Boston opponent to shoot 41.2 percent or less.
- Despite Rajon Rondo not playing, the Celtics accumulatd 26 assists, led by Paul Pierce's six.
- Carmelo Anthony scored just 20 points on 6-of-26 shooting.
- There were 13 ties and 10 lead changes in the game.
- J.R. Smith scored a game-high 24 points.
- Paul Pierce wasn't far behind with his team-high 23 points.
- The Celtics committed just 11 turnovers.
- No player in the game dished out more than six assists.
- New York shot 14-of-32 from 3-point range. It shot 10-of-17 in the first half and 4-of-15 in the second half.
- Five Celtics scored in double-figures.
- Jeff Green came off of the bench to score 16 points, grab six rebounds and dish out three assists.
- Marcus Camby grabbed seven rebounds in less than 10 minutes of action.
- None of Boston's players finished with a double-digit plus/minus rating, but ironically, Jason Kidd (plus-11) of the Knicks did.
- Avery Bradley notched season highs of 13 points and five assists.
Quote of the Night
This is the type of ball we envisioned when we came together.
Paul Pierce on how the Celtics are playing right now