Celtics 102, Knicks 94
Green scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to a 102-94 victory over the Knicks on Wednesday night. He scored seven straight — on a 3-pointer, a pair of free throws and a 19-footer—to take back the lead after Boston blew a 23-point, first-half lead.
“I don’t really consider myself a dunker,” said Green, who won the NBA slam dunk contest over All-Star weekend. “There’s more to my game besides dunking. I just want to be labeled as a good player. I don’t care if it’s dunking.”
Al Jefferson scored 26 points with nine rebounds and Paul Pierce added 24 points for Boston, which won two in a row for the first time since December. After that, they lost 25 of 27 games, including 18 straight losses that set a franchise record and made a run at the NBA mark of 24.
“Two games is good, we want to build on it and just get better,” Pierce said. “There’s teams that are battling for playoff position. The Knicks are trying to get into the playoffs—we want to spoil their fun.”
Quentin Richardson scored 24 and Stephon Marbury had 23 for the Knicks, who entered the night in 10th place, two games out of the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They trailed 53-30 near the end of the second but took their first lead at 79-78 early in the fourth.
“We don’t quit,” Richardson said. “But it’s not a good recipe. You can’t do that in the NBA. It’s too hard to come back against these teams, any team in the NBA, when you’re down 20 points.”
Rajon Rondo had nine rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics in their first game back in Boston since former point guard Dennis Johnson died last week at the age of 52. The Celtics observed a moment of silence and showed highlights on the scoreboard in his memory.
Even former nemesis Isiah Thomas wore a No. 3 pin on his lapel despite being the victim of Johnson’s greatest play—a game-winning, last-second layup after Larry Bird stole Thomas’ inbounds pass in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals.
“It was nice,” said Thomas, who was booed during introductions.
New York led 88-87 with just under five minutes left when Eddy Curry, who scored 16, made a hook shot. But Green took over, and he didn’t even need to call on one of the trick shots that helped him win the NBA’s slam dunk contest.
His 3-pointer with 4:27 left gave the Celtics back the lead, and after Pierce’s steal at the other end, Green got to the free throw line for two. He followed with a 19-footer from the left of the key to make it 94-88, and the Knicks never got within one possession again.
“One bad quarter got them back in the game, gave them life and energy,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “We had a team that was desperate over there, who’s trying to make the playoffs. They made a desperate run; they made every shot. And then we held our own and won the game.”
The Knicks fell behind by eight in the first five minutes, 23 points in the second quarter and still trailed 57-37 at the half. After trading free throws to start the third quarter, New York scored 12 consecutive points to make it a single-digit deficit.
Marbury hit a 3-pointer, Jared Jeffries made a layup and then Richardson hit a pair of 3s to make it 65-62 Boston.
The Celtics used their 19th starting lineup this season, one more than last year. … Boston has taken 3-of-4 from the Knicks this year. … The Knicks got just 13 points from their bench, but Channing Frye did lead them with nine rebounds. … Jamal Crawford missed his first game since being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right ankle that is supposed to keep him out the rest of the year. He was the only Knick who had appeared in every game, and the team’s No. 2 scorer. The Knicks also missed David Lee for the third straight game (sprained right ankle and muscle strain) and Steve Francis for the fourth game in a row (tendinitis in his right knee).