Game Notes: Knicks at Celtics
Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce extend Boston dominance over Knicks.
by Jonathan Evans
Another Boston-New York matchup, another electric atmosphere and another classic finish. After dueling with Carmelo down the stretch, Paul Pierce came out on top by hitting a game tying off balanced three with just seconds left in regulation. Melo then missed at the buzzer, setting up an overtime where Boston outpaced New York on their way to a 115-111 victory. A mix of clutch skill and a dose of luck, Pierce’s three was over the outstretched arms of Shumpert who couldn’t have defended the play any better.
“I don’t know if that’s execution. That’s having a horseshoe up your rear,” D”Antoni said to reporters after the game. “That’s what Paul Pierce does though.”
“We let it go, we were not disciplined down the stretch and had to get lucky to get it into overtime,” Doc said, echoing D’Antoni’s sentiments.
Pierce’s clutch three was the highlight of a 34-point outburst from The Truth, but that was by no means the best line of the night; that honor would go to Rajon Pierre Rondo. R-Double put up an outrageous line of 18 points, 17 boards and 20 assists. He forced the tempo, playing hard and fast but under control. Rondo set up his big men for good looks, helping Bass and KG notch 18 points each. With the C’s going small most of the night, he more than answered the call on the glass.
With yet another great performance, you have to think that headband is staying on Rondo’s head for a while longer. Rondo joined Oscar and Wilt as the only players to ever get at least 15 points, 20 assists, and 15 rebounds in a game. But more than the numbers, it’s when Rondo took over that’s most telling. He had 7 assists and 45 boards during the third quarter, when Boston went from down five to up eight. He then had 5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 dimes in the extra period to steal the win.
“He’s the smartest point guard I’ve ever been around,” Dos said. “The big number is 20 assists and 4 turnovers.”
One can’t talk point guards and turnovers without talking about Jeremy Lin. The epicenter of the Knicks universe was held in check and finished with 14 points, 5 assists and 6 turnovers. Lineffective, Harvard’s finest was hampered by foul trouble but more than that was held in check by a solid Celtics defense led by the determined Rondo.
“We wanted to put pressure on him and take away his right hand,” Doc said. “He made some tough shots, but you know, Melo’s pretty good too,” Doc sarcastically continued.
There was a fleeting moment of Linsanity late in regulation when a tough drive and a three brought New York to within one at 96-95 with 2 minutes left. Melo, who finished with a team high 25 points, then took over with three buckets in the last two minutes including the go ahead jumper before giving way to Pierce’s heroics.
“We just have life right now, you can see that,” Doc said of his squad. Winners of their last four, the C’s are trying to make a move out of the Eastern Conference purgatory. No doubt the win was sweeter for Boston because it came against a squad that’s neck and neck with them in the standings and trying to do the same thing.
“I felt like it’s an important game,” Doc said. “They’re getting confidence, we didn’t want that to grow against us.”