Celtics Rally to Beat Knicks in NBA Playoff Opener as Lakers, Spurs Lose
The Boston Celtics won their National Basketball Association playoff opener 87-85 on a 3- pointer by Ray Allen that denied the New York Knicks a first postseason victory in 10 years.
Allen scored 24 points and hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left as the Celtics erased a 12-point halftime deficit yesterday at TD Garden in Boston. Carmelo Anthony was held to 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting for the Knicks and missed a 3-pointer with one second left.
“Defensively we joined the playoffs in the second half,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said during a news conference.
The Celtics pulled out the win after the top two seeds in the Western Conference -- the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers -- were beaten at home. It’s the first time since 1984 that the No. 1 and No. 2 seed from the same conference lost their playoff openers.
The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the top-seeded Spurs 101-98 for their first postseason win in franchise history and the New Orleans Hornets beat the defending NBA-champion Lakers 109-100 as 10-point underdogs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 107-103 in Game 1 of their Western Conference series last night behind a 41-point effort by Kevin Durant.
The Chicago Bulls, the top seed in the East, host the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series after winning the opener two days ago. The Miami Heat are home to the Philadelphia 76ers in today’s other NBA playoff game.
Boston kept the Knicks winless in the postseason since April 29, 2001, scoring the final five points after Toney Douglas gave New York an 85-82 lead by hitting a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left.
After a basket by Boston’s Kevin Garnett, Anthony was whistled for an offensive foul with 21 seconds remaining. Anthony, who had three points over the final 24 minutes, said afterwards he didn’t agree with the call.
“What I thought and what they called was two different things,” said Anthony.
The Celtics then got the ball to Allen and the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers hit the game-winner. Anthony was short on his final 3-point attempt.
Amar’e Stoudemire scored 28 points to lead the Knicks, who were making their first playoff appearance since 2004. Paul Pierce added 18 points for Boston, the third seed in the Eastern Conference, while Garnett had 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Celtics, who have won 17 of their past 19 meetings against the sixth-seeded Knicks, will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series tomorrow.
“We had a great chance to win. We just didn’t quite close it out down the stretch,” Stoudemire said. “In the playoffs, you have to take these games and learn from them.”
At the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Zach Randolph scored 25 points and had 14 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies past the Spurs. Randolph scored nine of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for eighth-seeded Memphis, which was 0-12 in its three previous postseason series.
“It was a physical game,” Randolph said in a televised interview. “We just kept fighting.”
The Spurs were without All-Star guard Manu Ginobili, their second-leading scorer with an average of 17.4 points per game, because of a sprained right elbow.
Tony Parker had 20 points to lead the Spurs, who won the NBA title four times from 1999 to 2007, while Tim Duncan added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The teams return to the AT&T Center for Game 2 on April 20 before heading to Memphis for two games.
Paul Leads Hornets
At the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Chris Paul scored 33 points and had 14 assists to lead the Hornets, who had lost all four regular-season games against the Lakers.
“It’s been a tough year for me as far as making shots but it’s the playoffs,” Paul, who hit 11 of 18 shots, told ABC in a televised courtside interview. “My teammates were looking for me to be aggressive.”
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to lead the Lakers, who began the playoffs as the 5-2 favorite with oddsmakers to win a record-tying 17th NBA title. Los Angeles will host Game 2 on April 20.
The Thunder won their opener in Oklahoma City behind a combined 72 points from Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook. It was the first time the franchise has won Game 1 of a playoff series since 1998, when it was in Seattle.
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