NEW YORK (AP)—The New York Knicks were so bad in their home opener, even Howard Stern was offended.
The shock jock and his girlfriend walked out of Madison Square Garden in disgust midway through the third quarter Saturday night, long after fans began booing the Knicks in a 107-73 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Boston blew fourth-quarter leads in both of those games, but there would be no repeat this time against a Knicks team that was even shakier on defense than it was on offense.
The 34-point loss represented the largest margin of defeat in a home opener in team history.
“I would have booed, too, if I was a fan. The way we played tonight we deserved to get booed,” Stephon Marbury said. “We were terrible. In all areas of playing basketball we were bad tonight. Everything that entails going into winning a basketball game, we had none of it.”
Boston certainly did.
Pierce took care of the outside shooting, and the rest of the Celtics repeatedly drove inside, exerted greater effort on the boards and came up with nearly every hustle play against an undersized and nonaggressive Knicks defense.
Boston began pulling away late in the first quarter, then closed the first half with a 13-0 run.
When the boos began they weren’t all that loud, but the disparaging decibel level increased tenfold by the time the Knicks walked off at intermission after Tim Thomas ended the half by firing up an airball off an isolation play.
“This is New York. We wanted to win in the worst way and play our best basketball, but each and every night it’s not going to happen,” Thomas said. “But for that to happen, it was just uncalled for. It was just a terrible night.”
The Celtics went ahead by as many as 33 before the third quarter ended, and the only suspense in the fourth quarter revolved around how many fans would stick around until the end. (About 8,000 did).
Pierce shot 10-for-18 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Payton added nine points, leaving him 15 shy of becoming the 29th player in NBA history to score 20,000.
“We heard things that were said, that this was the easy part of the schedule before they went out on the road,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Our guys read the paper, too.”
None of the Knicks had a good game, especially Nazr Mohammed. He scored just four points in eight first-half minutes and didn’t return, getting replaced by Vin Baker as the starting center for the beginning of the second half.
Marbury scored 12 and Jamal Crawford had 11. Reserve forward Michael Sweetney led New York with 18 points.
Other courtside celebrities included Paris Hilton, Woody Allen and Spike Lee. … Knicks backup guard Penny Hardaway sat out because of a strained right hamstring. … Pierce took an elbow to the mouth late in the second quarter that drew blood, but he returned before halftime. … Shandon Anderson, the player the Knicks have been trying to trade or buy out of his contract, was on the floor for the final 20 minutes and did not score.