The New York Knicks led the Boston Celtics 85-82 after a three-pointer by Toney Douglas with 37 seconds left, but a bucket by Kevin Garnett, an offensive foul by Carmelo Anthony, and a clutch three pointer by Ray Allen allowed the Celtics to escape with an 87-85 win. Carmelo Anthony missed a three pointer that would have won it as time expired.
Anthony, who was in foul trouble less than two minutes into the game after picking up two quick fouls, exploded in the second quarter for 12 points, but struggled in the second half, going 1-11 with 3 points.
The Knicks led by as much as 12 points at the half, 51-39, and again at 53-41, after two free throws from Amar’e Stoudemire, but the Celtics gradually got back into the game by playing tough defense that limited the Knicks to 34-second half points.
“Down the stretch we found a way to win and that was because of our experience” Celtics forward Paul Pierce said after the game.
When asked about the offensive foul he was called for in the final minute of the game, Carmelo Anthony responded “What I thought and what they called were two different things.” When asked if the Celtics defense had anything to do with his bad shooting performance, Anthony responded “they didn’t do nothing special. They won Game 1 on their home court. They’re supposed to do that.”
“We’ve got to find a way to win down the stretch. We had a great chance to win. We played well throughout the full 48 minutes. We just didn’t quite close it out” Amare Stoudemire said after the game. When asked about not getting the ball the last three minutes of the game, after scoring 12 points on 6-7 shooting in the fourth quarter, Stoudemire responded “I think maybe the last four or five possessions Garnett started denying the ball and started really forcing me baseline and not allowing me to get the ball. But we did have a few plays where we had good positioning but just couldn’t score.”
Chauncey Billups left the game with under a minute left in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury, and was listed by Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni as “very questionable” for game two. After the game, Billups said “we’ve got a couple of days and I’ll just be treating it as long as I can. If I can get out there and help any, I’ll be out there.”
Stoudemire led the Knicks with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks on 12-18 shooting, while Anthony scored 15 points on 5-18 shooting. Billups scored 10 points on 3-11 from the field.
Allen led the Celtics with 24 points, while Paul Pierce scored 18. Garnett added 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 steals, Jermaine O’Neal finished with 12 points and Rajon Rondo was one assist short of a double-double with 10 points and 9 assists.
Game two of the series takes place in Boston tomorrow at 7pm.