By Dave Buscema, The Sports Xchange
NEW YORK -- The Boston Celtics had the last word on the court after some tough talk between Kevin Garnett and Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, but Anthony reportedly twice tried to continue the conversation after the game -- going as far as waiting by the Celtics' team bus.
The pair of stars had engaged in a tussle that resulted in a double technical foul in the intense fourth quarter of the Celtics' 102-96 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Afterwards, MSG Network reported Anthony screamed as he headed toward the Celtics' locker room after the game.
Anthony's persistence in trying to meet up with Garnett after the game is likely to gain the NBA's attention and could draw a suspension and fine.
Boston coach Doc Rivers declined to elaborate on the post-game incident by the Celtics' locker room, but when asked about Anthony coming over there, the coach indicated there was something to talk about.
"I'm gonna stay out of that," Rivers said. "If it was the playoffs, I'd tell on him, but since it's not, I'll just keep it quiet."
He added that it's fine for things to get heated during the game, but that they shouldn't carry over.
But a video later posted by Comcast SportsNet New England later showed Anthony, dressed in street clothes, waiting by the Celtics' team bus. The video shows several security members standing by him along with Knicks coach Mike Woodson. One of the security members gently put his hand on Anthony and the Knicks forward nudged it away.
The video cuts off as Woodson appears to be talking to Anthony, but the New York Daily News cited a source on the scene as saying Woodson ordered the player to leave peacefully.
Anthony, who was held to 20 points and clearly was frustrated by Garnett's physical play and trash talk, did not speak to the media for the first time this season.
Garnett said the players' on-court altercation was just about the "heat of the battle." Asked about any post-game incident, Garnett dismissed the question, saying, "No, man, just basketball, just basketball."
Paul Pierce scored 23 points and Garnett added 19 to give the Celtics their third straight win.
Monday's victory came without point guard Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for the third time in less than a year. The league announced the suspension was for making contact with a game official and failure to cooperate with a league investigation related to an incident in Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.
The first battle of the season between the five-time defending Atlantic Division champion Celtics and the upstart Knicks became increasingly tense and physical midway through the fourth quarter when Garnett and Anthony got into a jawing match.
Anthony had struggled from the field for most of the game, but he brought the Knicks to within 82-78 on a 3-pointer. Shortly after that, Anthony tangled with Garnett, the Knicks forward appearing to give him a shove under the basket, and the players began jawing with each other before getting called for the double technical.
Garnett had played Anthony physically and Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire also said Garnett was trash-talking to get into Anthony's head, as he has the veteran Celtic has been known to do.
As they were separated, Garnett made a motion with his fingers to indicate Anthony was talking a lot.
"It happened with me a few times with Garnett," Stoudemire said of when he was younger. "He takes you out of your game."
Anthony, who made only six of 26 shots from the field, responded after the altercation by hitting a 3-pointer while the intensified crowd chanted an anti-Boston slogan. Jason Kidd then scored the Knicks' next five points, including an open 3-pointer off an assist from J.R. Smith following a steal, and the game was tied 86-86 with 6:41 left.
But the Celtics outlasted the Knicks, thanks largely to a back-breaking jumper by Pierce as the shot clock expired for a 100-94 lead with 45 seconds left.
Anthony, who had his lowest point total since Nov. 16, hit two free throws, and Celtics guard Jason Terry -- in the lineup with Rondo out -- was ruled to have stepped out of bounds, but the officials then said Terry called timeout before doing so.
Garnett hit two free throws after the timeout to seal the game for the Celtics.
"The last three games have been terrific," Rivers said. "Winning this game here without Rondo tells you our guys hung in there."
Smith led the Knicks with 24 points, but he was bleeding and bandaged in the final minutes after getting fouled and required stitches after the game due to a hard foul by Avery Bradley. Smith said after the game he thought the play was inadvertent and attributed it to the fact both players were "aggressive."
Leading 76-72 entering the fourth quarter, the Celtics started the period on a 6-2 run for an 82-74 lead.
The Knicks responded with their 12-4 run to tie the game, as tensions and the volume raised at the Garden.
But frustrations had risen through most of the game for Anthony, who looked upset after getting called for his fourth foul late in the third quarter, and who wasn't in his usual rhythm, fresh off getting named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
"I think we got into his body," Pierce said. "We didn't give him a lot of space. ... (We) tried to give him different looks from the zone. Got a bigger guy on him."
Following the game, Anthony exited the opposite end as he normally would, which put him closer to the Celtics' locker room.
Woodson, before Anthony waited for the Celtics' bus, declined to comment on the reported post-game locker room incident and several Knicks said they didn't see anything.
"Melo's a very fiery guy, believe it or not," Smith said of Anthony's on-the-court altercation, though he said he didn't know of any of the post-game incidents. "He doesn't like to lose and he doesn't like when people come up in his face. So it is what it is."
NOTES: Rivers said he didn't expect Rondo's suspension because the official Rondo made contact with didn't call a technical foul at the time. But Rivers acknowledged Rondo's reputation did not help him. "You know the old saying, you're not given a reputation, you earn one," Rivers said. Asked if he was worried about that reputation growing for Rondo, Rivers replied, "I'm not worried about it because it's already here. We just work on it every day." ... Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (torn left ACL and meniscus) could practice Tuesday pending results of medical tests he underwent Monday, Woodson said.