Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds as the Boston Celtics avoided National Basketball Association postseason elimination for the second straight game with a 92-86 victory last night at the New York Knicks.
The Knicks still lead the best-of-seven first-round series three games to two, with Game 6 set for tomorrow night at Boston’s TD Garden.
The Celtics opened a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held off a Knicks rally thanks to consecutive 3-pointers by Jeff Green, who had 18 points to lead Boston. The Knicks scored the first 11 points of the game, only to trail by six points at halftime and by 69-60 entering the fourth period.
“We talked before the game that we were going to have to overcome tremendous emotion at the start of the game and that happened,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “Everybody just wanted to be in the fight tonight, and everyone did their part.”
Last night’s game ended with a verbal exchange between Celtics reserve Jordan Crawford and the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton after the final buzzer. There was some pushing and shoving as players and coaches tried to keep them apart.
The Knicks-Celtics winner advances to play the survivor of the series between the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers lead that series 3-2 after a 106-83 home win last night.
The Pacers, who were led by David West’s 24 points and Paul George’s 21 points and 10 rebounds, can finish off the Hawks with a win in Game 6 at Atlanta tomorrow night.
Also last night, James Harden had 31 points and the Houston Rockets stayed alive in their playoff series with a 107-100 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder, who got 36 points from Kevin Durant. The Thunder still lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 tomorrow night at Houston.
Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets try to avoid elimination for the second straight game as they play in Chicago against the Bulls, who have a 3-2 series lead. The Golden State Warriors, leading 3-2 in their series against the Denver Nuggets, try to wrap up that series at home.
Brandon Bass and Jason Terry had 17 points apiece and Paul Pierce added 16 last night for the Celtics, who were 11-for-22 on 3-pointers and made all 17 of their free throw attempts. The Knicks were 5-for-22 from behind the 3-point line.
Anthony was 8-for-24 shooting while scoring 22 points to lead the Knicks. J.R. Smith, who sat out Game 4 of the series because of a suspension, went 3-for-14 from the field and scored 14 points.
Anthony’s 22 points were the fewest he’s had in a game since he scored the same amount on March 27 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
New York is still seeking to win its first playoff series since 2000, when it beat the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat before falling to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. They wrapped up both of those series on the road.
The Knicks were trying to clinch a series at their Madison Square Garden home for the first time since June 11, 1999, when they beat Indiana 90-82 in Game 6 to advance to the NBA Finals - - where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs.