The New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics by a score of 114-88.
The Knicks got their revenge on a Celtics team that handed them their third-worst home loss in franchise history back in December, swiftly taking care of business at home by defeating Rajon Rondo and company in a game that was over within six minutes of tip-off. That now makes it three in a row for the Knicks, who have been playing markedly better since Carmelo Anthony put the team on his back with a 62-point performance against the Bobcats last week. Melo made it clear that he had enough of all the losing and New York has responded accordingly.
The Knicks used a picture perfect first half to propel them to the win. They came out aggressive, driving to the hoop for their first three buckets, and setting the tone for the rest of the night. Once the perimeter opened up, it was game over. New York moved the ball as well as they have all season, assisting 19 times on 24 makes in the deciding first half. Raymond Felton led the passing exhibition with six dimes is the first quarter alone.
Anthony, who entered the matchup with 97 points in his last two games, paced the Knicks with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. He had two helpers before he even attempted a field goal tonight, and looks to be playing his best basketball right now, which is saying a lot for a player who has been the only consistent performer on the team so far this season. Melo did all his damage in just 28 minutes of play.
Usually, the offense slows down once Anthony heads to the sideline for a rest, but tonight, the bench kept the Knicks rolling. J.R. Smith knocked down his first two jumpers, and even did a little facilitating with a highlight reel alley-oop to Tyson Chandler after breaking down his defender. He finished with 17 points, 5 assists and a surprising two blocks. Tim Hardaway Jr. was his usual handy self, chipping in a couple clutch three-pointers as the Celtics were making an 11-0 run in the second quarter, and ending with 16 points on 5-10 shooting from the field. Jeremy Tyler continued his activity on both ends of the floor, putting up a career-high 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Anytime the Knicks can use a comfortable lead to get guys like Tyler, THJ, and Toure Murry involved, it’s a bonus. On the night, the Knicks bench outscored the Celtics 63-50, including 28-9 in the first half.
Minor injuries have put a damper on more than few Knicks wins this season, and tonight was one of those instances. Iman Shumpert left the game less than five minutes in, after spraining his right shoulder on a steal attempt. I can’t imagine him suiting up just two nights later, when the Knicks host the Cavaliers. Despite this being his first game back from injury, Kenyon Martin also exited early. Apparently he re-aggravated his sprained left ankle, but was available to return during the second half. Fortunately, the Knicks were in no need of his services tonight. Martin played well in almost nine minutes of floor time, but nothing is more important than keeping him fresh, especially while Amar’e Stoudemire is out. STAT will return to practice tomorrow, but there’s no timetable for a return to game action just yet. Beno Udrih sat out tonight with an “illness,” but we’ll let you interpret that however you want to.
I didn’t mention anything special about Tyson Chandler tonight, but when the Knicks are at their best, that’s probably a good thing. The big man had 12 points and 13 rebounds in just 22 minutes, and if he can come in to work and quietly put up numbers like this every night, all will be well as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Although no one on the Celtics played exceptionally well, they were led by Jeff Green, who finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. As a team, they looked generally unenthused and were unresponsive to the quick hole they dug themselves in to in the first quarter. Sound familiar?
Kris Humphries recieved his usual smothering of boos from the Garden crowd and Rajon Rondo looked like a complete shell of his former All-Star self. You hate to question his will to get back on the court as quickly as possible, but given the Celtics rebuilding project, maybe it was foolish to rush back. Or maybe the sooner he got back, the sooner he gets traded. Rondo has been mentioned in a myriad of trade rumors, including one with the Knicks involving Stoudemire, Shumpert, Hardaway Jr, and a future first rounder. New York would be taking back the inflated contract of Gerald Wallace in the process, yet another barb from the Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks will look to keep the momentum going strong with a home matchup against Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. I’m not sure how Knicks-Cavs qualifies as a nationally televised game, but it should be interesting to see how Charles Barkley tries to criticize the three-game winning streak. As always, TOK will have you covered.