Anthony's triple-double guides hot-shooting Knicks past Celtics

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Boston Celtics have to wait a little while longer to clinch their fifth straight Atlantic Division title. The New York Knicks are still hanging onto a longshot hope of winning their first division crown in 18 years.

Behind a triple-double by Carmelo Anthony, who had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and a barrage of 3-pointers, the Knicks took a 118-110 win over the Celtics on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks (32-29), who hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, moved within 3 1/2 games of the division-leading Celtics (36-26), who hoped to lock up the division and rest up before the playoffs.

After a mercurial season, Anthony continued his torrid April, in which he has averaged 32 points per game. He helped the Knicks, playing without starters Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, inch closer to clinching their second straight postseason berth.

"Melo I think now is settling in," said interim coach Mike Woodson, who has a 14-5 record since he replaced Mike D'Antoni. "He's playing like we all thought he could, and it's beautiful to watch him play. And he's making the guys around him better, and that's what good players do."

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 43 points, including 17 of Boston's 31 in the third quarter. Boston, which played without Ray Allen (ankle) for a fifth straight game, trailed by 19 at the half but cut the deficit to as little as six in the final five minutes.

Anthony then found Steve Novak (career-high 25 points) for a pair of 3-pointers to finally put the Celtics away.

Novak, the NBA's leading 3-point shooter, hit eight of the Knicks' 19 3-pointers, both totals falling one shy of the franchise record.

"We just made shots tonight," Anthony said. "Guys were open the way (the Celtics) were guarding me tonight."

Boston coach Doc Rivers said his team "panicked" in regards to stopping the red-hot Anthony.

"We didn't have a smart defensive game," Rivers said, "and they made every shot, give them credit. But they were good shots. That's where I was disappointed."

New York's J.R. Smith had seven 3-pointers en route to his 25 points, while Tyson Chandler added 20 points.

Kevin Garnett had 20 points, and Rajon Rondo, who took a hard fall in the quarter, finished with 13 points and 13 assists for the Celtics.

D'Antoni may be long gone from the Knicks sideline, but his shoot-em-up offense remained, especially on this night. The Knicks drilled an astonishing 14 3-pointers in the first half -- tying an NBA record -- on 21 attempts. New York held a commanding, and stunning, 72-53 lead against the overwhelmed Celtics at the break.

The Knicks actually missed their first three attempts from downtown, but fittingly it was Smith who got the three-for-all started when he drained his first attempt with 3:19 left in the first quarter. The shot cut Boston's lead to 24-20 and sparked a wild 40-16 run by the Knicks, who drained nine 3s in that stretch, capped by a four-point play by Novak. That gave the Knicks a 60-40 lead with 3:12 left in the half.

The Knicks hit 11 3-pointers in a 40-point second quarter.

NOTES: The Milwaukee Bucks hit 14 3-pointers in one half against the Phoenix Suns on March 28, 2006. ... Smith's seven 3-pointers in the first half tied a franchise record held by Shawne Williams and John Starks. ... Allen went through the team's shoot-around and was expected to play in the game, but after the workout, his injured ankle swelled again. ... Boston's Mickeal Pietrus, who didn't play, was sent back to Boston, along with Allen, to have his knee examined. ... Stoudemire (bulging disk) missed his 13th straight game and is expected to miss at least one more, Wednesday at New Jersey. Woodson said there's a possibility Stoudemire could return Friday at Cleveland. ... Lin was selected the recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award for the Atlantic Division. He is among six finalists for the honor.
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