Streaking Knicks Shut Down Celtics
Boston — J.R. Smith scored 32 points, Carmelo Anthony added 29 and the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to five games with a 100-85 victory over the Boston Celtics last night.
The win moved the Knicks into second place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points ahead of the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics, who could face the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, lost their fifth game in a row and remained in seventh.
Neither team led by more than four points in the early going and the score was tied 35-35 early in the second quarter. The Knicks then scored the next 14, led 58-44 at halftime and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way, leading by as many as 17 points.
The Celtics, playing their second straight game without Kevin Garnett, were led by Jeff Green with 19 points and Paul Pierce with 16. But they committed 20 turnovers, while the Knicks, who have the fewest average turnovers in the NBA, had just eight.
Garnett is expected to miss about two weeks with inflammation in his left ankle. Starting guard Courtney Lee also sat out his second game in a row with a sprained left ankle. Starters Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger already are sidelined for the season.
The Knicks were without two key big men. Tyson Chandler has a bulging disk and missed his seventh consecutive game, while Amare Stoudemire was sidelined for the 10th game following knee surgery that is expected to keep him out four more weeks.
Steve Novak began New York’s 14-0 surge with a 3-pointer, Anthony hit a 19-foot jumper and Smith followed with a tip-in. Anthony then converted an alley-oop from Pablo Prigioni before Prigioni made a reverse layup and Novak ended the run with another 3.
Brandon Bass’ layup with 7:47 left in the second quarter had tied it at 35, but the Celtics didn’t score again until Jordan Crawford made a pair of free throws with 3:53 left in the half. Boston went without a field goal until Green’s layup with 3:27 remaining made it 49-37.
The Celtics cut the lead to 69-62 on a layup by Pierce with 5:21 left in the third quarter, but the Knicks scored the next nine points to open a 78-62 lead.
Anthony began the spurt with two free throws, Jason Kidd scored his first points of the game on a 3-pointer, Kenyon Martin dunked on a follow-up and Anthony hit two more free throws.
The Knicks led 84-69 entering the fourth quarter and took their biggest lead, 91-74, on a 3-pointer by Novak.
Notes: Smith and Anthony combined for 34 of the Knicks’ first 44 points. ... New York’s reserves led Boston’s 27-7 in the first half. Jason Terry was the only non-starter to score for Boston in the half. ... With Lee sidelined, Crawford made his first start for the Celtics in 17 games since being traded from the Washington Wizards and finished with 14 points. ... Boston is one away from its longest losing streak of the season. ... The teams meet again on Sunday in New York.