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Balanced Celtics send series back to Boston

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks decided to wear all black prior to their Game 5 showdown with the Boston Celtics in the hopes of closing out the series with a funereal message.

Instead, it was the Celtics who buried the Knicks with their 3-point shooting en route to a 92-86 victory Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, sending the series back to Boston for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday.

The Celtics, who trail the Knicks three games to two, shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, placing five players in double figures for the first time in the series while earning their second win in a row.

The loss stopped the Knicks' 12-game home winning streak.

Jeff Green led Boston with 18 points. He was followed by Brandon Bass and Jason Terry with 17 points apiece, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with 16 each. Garnett added 18 rebounds and five assists, both game highs.

The Knicks' pregame attire didn't have the desired impact on Green.

"Honestly, we didn't make note of it," he said. "They want to do what they want to do, that's none of our business. We're here to win games and take care of business.

"Whatever shenanigans they (Knicks) want to pull, dressing in all black, let them do that. We're here to win games and not talk."

Carmelo Anthony, who was slowed by a sore shoulder, paced the Knicks with 22 points, but he made just eight of 24 shots. He's led New York in scoring in all five games. Raymond Felton added 21 points.

J.R. Smith, the NBA's sixth man of the year, returned after a one game-suspension and was a non-factor for the Knicks, scoring just 11 points off the bench.

Boston was an efficient 11 of 22 from 3-point range, with Terry proving to be the sharpest shooter. He played 35 minutes off the bench, converting five of his nine 3-point attempts.

"We are not a bad 3-point shooting team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I kept telling our guys, when you get them (3-pointers), take them. I kept telling them to let it fly, don't hesitate. If it's contested, move it. If it's not, take it.

"I thought our guys did a good job of that."

A Smith 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run that pulled the Knicks within 88-83 with 1:05 to play, but Garnett drilled a 15-foot jumper to extend Boston's lead with 48.3 seconds left.

The Knicks closed within 85-76 with 2:43 to go, but Green nailed a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner, giving Boston a 88-76 edge with 2:23 remaining.

"We moved the ball well," Garnett said. "Guys who had shots took them. They were aggressive, and then we came down and played some decent defense.

"We continued to attack, and that's what we need to keep doing."

The Celtics displayed an unselfish nature while creating terrific perimeter ball movement. Boston recorded 20 assists, the second straight game it has posted 20 or more in the category.

"We trusted each other," Rivers said. "We let the ball find the open guy, and we were really good."

The third quarter was a nightmare for Boston in the first game of the series. On Wednesday, it was a difference-maker.

The Celtics outscored New York 24-21 in the period to advance their lead to 69-60. Boston scored just 11 points in the third in Game 1, but in Game 5, Pierce took over that quarter.

Working off the dribble, Pierce netted 10 points and Terry added eight as the Celtics controlled the perimeter. The Knicks missed their last six shots of the quarter as Anthony went into a shooting funk.

Anthony was 0-for-3 from the field in the third. Felton kept it close with his distributing and scoring, getting eight points in the quarter, but he received little assistance from his teammates.

"Melo (Anthony) is fine," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said in reference to Anthony's shoulder. "I thought we came out ready to play, (but after Boston got going), I don't think we responded very well.

"We have to find some offense somewhere. We have been struggling to find points."

The Celtics took their first lead of the game, 34-33, on a 3-pointer from Pierce with 5:50 left in the second quarter en route to their fourth halftime advantage in the series. Boston outscored the Knicks 11-6 after the Pierce bucket to grab the 45-39 halftime cushion.

Anthony cooled off in the second quarter, hitting just one of five shots from the field. With Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler in foul trouble, the Knicks had to reach down the bench for Marcus Camby, who was making his first appearance of the series.

Garnett had a solid first half with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Anthony deposited 12 first-quarter points to help the Knicks to a 22-20 edge. Pierce failed to connect on any of his six first-quarter shots from the floor.

The Knicks opened the game on an 11-0 run during the first 4:10.

"We knew they were going to come out very aggressive," said Pierce of the Knicks' hot start. "Coach was like, 'We just have to withstand their run.'

"At the beginning, most teams when they get back home and have a chance at (clinching), they come out with a certain fire, and we had to withstand that. We didn't get rattled, we allowed ourselves to get back in the game."

NOTES: New York guard Jason Kidd received the NBA's sportsmanship award for the second straight season. Kidd had no points and no assists in 21 minutes Wednesday. ... The Celtics committed 15 turnovers to the Knicks' eight, continuing a series-long trend. Boston has 82 turnovers, compared to 59 for the Knicks. ... Boston point guard Avery Bradley has more turnovers (10) than assists (seven) in the series. He had four points, no assists and one giveaway in Game 5. ... Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni has accumulated 11 steals while playing four of the five games. ... Among the celebrities sitting courtside were Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, Zach Galifianakis and Kevin Bacon.
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