Knicks push Celtics to the brink
BOSTON - Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points and Raymond Felton had 15 points with 10 assists, leading the New York Knicks to a 90-76 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday and giving the Knicks a 3-0 lead in their opening-round best-of-seven series.
J.R. Smith scored 15 points for the Knicks before getting ejected with a flagrant 2 foul for elbowing Jason Terry with 7:06 to play.
Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Boston. No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit.
Jeff Green led the Celtics with 21 points and Paul Pierce had 17, but Pierce had a dismal shooting night going 6-for-15. Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 17 rebounds.
After a rough shooting start, Anthony scored eight points during an 11-4 run over the final four minutes of the second quarter, helping the Knicks open a 47-31 halftime advantage.
The Celtics walked off the floor at halftime to a spattering of boos from a home crowd that came charged up to try to help them. Instead, it left many in the sellout crowd wondering if they may have seen the last season of Garnett, who came along with the now-departed Ray Allen, and carried Boston to the 2008 NBA crown.
The Knicks won the Atlantic Division for the first time since Garnett came to Boston in the summer of 2007. Now, they have the Celtics on the edge of elimination.
It may have been a sign of how tough things would be for the Celtics in the first half when both Pierce and Garnett missed easy put-backs on the first possession.
But the Knicks' defense was just too much for Boston's aging stars Pierce and Garnett - and the rest of the supporting cast of Celtics.
The defense that stifled Boston for both second halves in Games 1 and 2 was there from the opening tip Friday.
After the halftime break, which concluded with Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" playing during the end of warmups, Anthony simply showed the crowd why the Celtics couldn't stop him.
With Boston attempting to make a charge in the third, he scored 10 of the Knicks' 14 points and held the Celtics off by himself. The shots included an off-balance baseline fadeaway, and a pair of 3-pointers. The last had some Knicks fans in the crowd chanting "MVP! MVP!"
The Knicks led 68-52 after three quarters.
Smith's steal and breakaway jam made it 75-54 with just over nine minutes to play. The margin was never less than 12 the rest of the way.
In the first quarter, New York pulled to a 12-5 edge midway into the quarter on Felton's driving shot. The Knicks clogged up things defensively for the rest of the quarter, owning a 23-18 edge after one. Pierce was 1-for-6 from the field in the opening quarter with a pair of turnovers, once getting stripped by Iman Shumpert beyond the 3-point line that led to an easy New York fastbreak and a "clear path" foul by Terry.
But Anthony wasn't much better, going 2-for-7.
The Knicks opened their first double-digit lead of the game (34-23) on Felton's 3 from the right wing midway into the second.
From there, it was Anthony's time to shine. He nailed three consecutive tough shots, including two fallaways, from different spots. He capped his personal run by scoring off an alley-oop. Felton then nailed a long 3, giving New York a 47-29 edge 59 seconds before halftime.
Late in the half, Terry was standing all alone in front of Boston's bench almost begging for the ball, but Green drove against three defenders and kicked it out to Pierce, who front-rimmed a forced 3. It was one of many signs that New York's defense just had the Celtics very confused.
averaged 35.0 points in the f