Thursday night’s rematch in Boston simply is one between two struggling teams looking to right the ship.
On-court bickering led to technical fouls for both players in the final minutes of Boston’s 102-96 victory Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden, and Anthony attempted to confront Garnett multiple times after the game as well.
“Listen, heat of the battle, man. Guys go back and forth. He’s trying to get his team to go, I’m trying to get my team to go, both teams are colliding, not to mention that it’s the Knicks and the Celtics,” Garnett said following the contest. “Just what it is, man.”
Anthony ended up being suspended for one game for his off-the-court actions following that defeat, which began the current stretch of four losses in six games for the Knicks (25-14).
Anthony said he’s put the incident in the past and his focus is just to win Thursday. New York has dropped 13 straight meetings in Boston - including the postseason - dating back to a 101-77 victory Nov. 24, 2006.
“On my end there’s nothing left over,” Anthony said. “It’s just another game on the schedule and we just happen to be playing Boston. As far as anything being left over, this is a new game.
“We can’t get the game back that we lost to them on our home floor, so we want to go and return the favor and beat them on their home floor.”
Anthony, shooting 36.6 percent in his last five games, certainly doesn’t expect a warm reception from the TD Garden crowd.
“It’ll be a hostile environment. I’m expecting that,” he said. “It’ll be a fun game just knowing what’s at stake as far as us playing Boston in a divisional game.”
New York’s Atlantic Division lead was further trimmed after Monday’s 88-85 home loss to second-place Brooklyn. After facing Boston, the Knicks will play at Philadelphia on Saturday.
“I don’t want to put that much pressure on us because right now we’re still in a great spot in the East and (at the top) of our division,” said Anthony, whose streak of 26 straight games with at least 20 points is three shy of Richie Guerin’s franchise record. “But to undermine these next two games, that would be the wrong thing to do. These games are big-time games. We accept that challenge.”
Boston (20-21), meanwhile, is on the verge of a season-worst fifth straight defeat following a season-best six-game winning streak. The Celtics fell 95-90 at last-place Cleveland on Tuesday and also have double-digit losses to sub-.500 teams New Orleans and Detroit during their skid.
“You’ve got to make your own breaks, and we’ve got to make ours,” coach Doc Rivers said.
Rajon Rondo who was serving a one-game suspension for the last meeting with the Knicks, had 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists Tuesday. Paul Pierce though, scored 12 points while going 3 for 15 from the field and is shooting 32.4 percent over his last five.
“We’ve just got to be better, period,” said Garnett, who has scored 16 points in each of his last three. “We’ve got to try to figure this thing out because it’s not going to change itself.”
Rondo is averaging 19.3 points and 13.1 assists in his last seven games versus New York, including the playoffs.