After a ragged first half marred by fouls and turnovers (and atrocious Boston defense), the Celtics and Knicks kicked it into gear in the second half. Carmelo Anthony capped a brilliant day with two final-minute free throws to put the Knicks ahead. Kevin Garnett had a baseline jumper to tie on the final possession of the game, but it caught the back of the rim and the Knicks walked off with the win.
Paul Pierce’s absence was felt not only as an offensive option on that final play, but as a check on Melo, who hit eight jumpers between 17-25 feet to go along with 15 free throw attempts on his way to 37 points (and 8 rebounds).
Rajon Rondo (31 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) played like a megastar today. He consistently attacked the basket, took jumpers when he was open, found guys for open layups and created havoc for New York all over the court. It’s safe to say that if Rondo can even approach this kind of performance every night, the Celtics will be thrilled at the non-trade for Chris Paul.
The Celtics also got a remarkable debut from Brandon Bass, who stormed the paint to register 20 points and 11 rebounds (including 5 offensive rebounds, each one more encouraging than the last. What kind of Celtics team gets second chance points?).
From a rotation-watch perspective, Avery Bradley saw 9 minutes of ball-hawking duty, Marquis Daniels played 30 minutes and tallied 4 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Sasha Pavlovic played 15 largely ineffective minutes but don’t expect a repeat. When Pierce and Mickael Petrius suit up later this week, Pavlovic will find himself nailed to the bench.
That’s it for now but Hayes will be back later with the full breakdown of this one.