NEW YORK (AP)—One of the NBA’s oldest rivalries is not much of a competition anymore.
The Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Knicks their sixth straight loss. Boston has won 15 of the last 19 meetings, including all three this season.
“We’re playing against a struggling team. They have a lack of confidence,” Pierce said. “I’m not going to take anything away from our team, but I felt like this is a game we’re supposed to win.”
The Celtics, who shot 57 percent from the field, now own a 256-166 advantage in a series that dates back to the NBA’s first season in 1946-47.
It was also the largest margin of victory for the Celtics this season and their second-highest point total. They lost 125-124 in triple-overtime to Philadelphia on Jan. 13.
“I think we came and just handled our business,” Pierce said. “They’re a poor defensive team. The better teams are not going to allow you to do this.”
The Celtics led 40-28 after the first quarter and never relinquished their double-digit lead. Boston pulled within three games of Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s the same old same old. We can’t guard anyone,” Knicks coach Larry Brown said. “They got 33 points on the break. It looked like that could have had 100.”
Ahead 62-51, the Celtics scored the last nine points of the first half and extended their lead to 78-55 on LaFrentz’ 3-pointer with 9:42 left in the third quarter.
When the Knicks managed to cut their deficit to 16 points with 6:44 left, Celtics coach Doc Rivers called a timeout.
“Play the same way you played when you got the lead,” he told his players in the huddle. “No turnovers. Take care of the ball.”
Szczerbiak immediately followed with a 3-pointer, Pierce made a foul shot, and West hit a jumper. The Celtics never led by fewer than 20 again.
“We haven’t had many road wins like this this season. We’ll take it,” Szczerbiak said. “It’s a big win for us. Keeps us in the playoff hunt.”
The rout continued in the fourth quarter, even though West was the only Boston starter to play in the last 12 minutes.
“I don’t see how you give up 123 points, 33 on the break and feel like you’re satisfied,” Brown said. “Maybe we’re just not good enough. After 70 games, it’s mind boggling.”
The 40 points Boston scored in the first quarter were the most by a Knicks opponent in any quarter this season. The Celtics’ 71 points at halftime tied the most allowed by the Knicks this season. New York allowed Atlanta 71 points on Dec. 16. . Many former Knicks were honored during their “Hall of Famers and Legends” halftime ceremony, including a member of New York’s original 1946-47 team, Ralph Kaplowitz.