With a chance to wrap up the Atlantic Division by delivering the knock out punch to the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics got air raided in Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks played their best first half of basketball this season (and possibly of any season for that matter) to bury the Celtics 118-110.
New York made 14 threes in the first half on 21 attempts (67%) and they never looked back scoring 72 points in the half.
It started out poorly for the Celtics as the Knicks shot 63% in the first quarter to lead 32-26 at the end of the period. Melo had 12 of his 35 points and finished with a triple-double adding 12 rebounds and 10 assists. JR Smith tallied 6 points 3 rebounds and 2 assists in only 4 minutes of work during the first quarter. That turned out to be clear indicator of how the night would turn out for Boston.
Smith would not relent and teamed up with Steve Novak to lead the Knicks to a 40 point second quarter powered by 11 made threes in the period. Sparked by the play of those two New York’s bench outscored Boston’s bench 39-0 in the first half alone.
Novak and Smith (no that’s not a law firm) would combine for 50 points in the game (25 each) and shot a ridiculously obscene 15-20 combined mark from behind the 3 point line. Downright sniper like.
Paul Pierce attempted to keep the Celtics close finishing with a season high 43 points and made the game somewhat bearable for Celtics fans. He valiantly played through his toe injury and was in visible pain throughout the night. Boston would have been lost by 20 or more without him.
Rajon Rondo’s double digit assist game streak continued on his way to 13 points and 13 assists.
Rondo suffered a scary fall on a rebound attempt with just 8 minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter. He injured his lower back/tailbone on the fall but returned following the timeout. When he did rest he reminded Boston fans of Larry Bird as he laid face down on the sidelines. Unfortunately he looked older than KG when he made his final exit of the game sitting down every so gingerly when Doc Rivers pulled the plug on hopes of a comeback win.
In the end it was the usually stingy Celtics defense that failed them in their effort or lack thereof tonight. The Celtics allowed the Knicks to shoot 57% from the floor and 19-32 from three (59%). Boston’s rotations were slow when they did exist at all and they regularly got caught going under picks while shooters scampered to the arc.
Leaving Novak (and his discount double check) open for three is just as bad if not worse then leaving Ray Allen open. The guy can flat out shoot it. The Celtics should have known and played better. The built in excuse of it being their 4th game in 5 nights is not good enough.
Speaking of Allen his troublesome ankle still is not good enough to play as he missed the game with tightness as opposed to the swelling that has been ailing him. He will miss the game tomorrow against the Magic and is still questionable for Friday’s game against the Hawks.
Mickael Pietrus also missed the game with swelling in his knee after participating in all 3 games over the weekend but he should be ready to go by Friday.
Boston’s mortality is certainly again on display with the schedule battering the veterans and now even taken its toll on the young Rondo.
The Celtics will have to band together as they often do to finish off the season unscathed as they make an attempt on their final championship run.
While Boston certainly died by the three tonight, their larger vision is to deliver death by the “Big Three” to opponents come playoff time.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com