“Team Streak” otherwise known as the Boston Celtics won their fourth straight game on Sunday, however it was a battle to the finish as the New York Knicks took them to overtime before the Celtics sent their fans at the “New Garden” in a good mood, as their club prevailed by a final margin of 115-111. Paul Pierce led the way for the home town team with a game high 34 points while Rajon Rondo racked up yet another triple-double including 18 points and Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double as he also knocked down 18 points in the victory. Carmelo Anthony was the high scorer for New York with 25 points while Amar’e Stoudemire notched a double-double with 16 points for the afternoon.
Boston with the win goes two games above .500 for the campaign and more importantly put some more distance between them and their division mates. The Celtics now hold a game and a half lead over the Knicks, as they keep the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference Playoff chase and now trail Division leading Philadelphia by only two and a half games in the Atlantic Division.
This contest was truly a roller-coaster affair, with both teams sprinting ahead and then being overtaken by their opponents throughout the afternoon. Boston would hold the advantage for much of the opening period, taking a nine-point lead with 5:22 to play as Mickael Pietrus drained a 24 foot trey, putting his team on top 21-12. The visitors came charging back late in the quarter and Steve Novak drained a 23 foot trey with 27 seconds remaining and the Knicks ended the period holding the upper hand at 29-27.
New York appeared as if they were going to take control of the game for good in the second as Anthony hit a bucket two feet from the basket with 4:03 in the half putting his team ahead 50-38. The momentum would swing the Celtics way for the balance of the period, as they ended the quarter on a 13-6 run and putting themselves back in the game at the half with the Knicks lead down to 56-51.
With 8:49 left in the third Pierce connected on a three-point shot 24 feet away from the basket and the game was knotted up at 60-60. The Celtics would dominate the rest of the period and they would lead 80-72 at the end of the period. The Celtics controlled the flow of the game for most of the fourth and looked like they would win with ease as Brandon Bass hit a pair at the line with 5:28 to play giving the Celtics a 92-83 lead.
The Knicks were not ready to give this game up without a fight though and with 35 seconds in regulation Anthony hit a mid-range jumper putting New York ahead 101-100. The Knicks led by three points when Pierce knocked down a 26 foot shot from behind the arc and the game went to the extra period with the score deadlocked at 103-103.
The two opponents exchanged the lead for the first few possessions of the overtime, but Ray Allen drove the lane putting the ball through the cylinder with 3:13 to play putting his team on top 110-105. The Knicks did not have anything left in the tank to make another run and the Celtics would hold on for the victory.
Pierce knocked down 34 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block to lead Boston in the win. Rondo scored 18 points, 20 assists, 17 boards, a block and a steal while Garnett had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Bass also put up 18 points, 4 blocks and 3 rebounds while Allen added 12 points, 4 steals and 1 assist.
Anthony had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists for the afternoon. Stoudemire scored 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 assist while Jeremy Lin started out slow but ended the game with 14 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal. Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert both came off the bench and each chipped in 14 points in the loss. Boston now stands at 19-17 and will host the Houston Rockets on Tuesday while New York now has a record of 18-19 and will be in Dallas on Tuesday to take on the Mavericks.