The Knicks put a good scare into the Celtics, but even an old, hobbling Boston squad was enough to outlast New York in overtime. In an exciting game of back-and-forth runs, a slow but excitable Kevin Garnett sank the buzzer-beating shot to give the C's the win. Heartbroken as I am, it was a pleasure to see the Garden alive like it's supposed to be. The Knicks really turned up the effort, particularly on defense, for significant stretches of this one. The crunch-time execution, though, didn't measure up to that of the Celtics, which I guess it to be expected.
Notes after the jump...
- I get the feeling that the major theme of today's game for anybody not emotionally invested in the Knicks was the demise of Kevin Garnett. I couldn't give half a shit about Garnett's health, but even I noticed KG's trouble moving. Particularly late in the game, Al Harrington repeatedly beat Garnett off the dribble, which defies logic and the sanctity of the game. His shots, too, were consistently off the mark until he hit a pair of his signature 18-footers (including the winner) down the stretch.
- Ray Allen, too, looked pretty sluggish. Paul Pierce was the only leg of the axis of evil to play well, and he was as deadly as ever. He shot 6-7 from downtown, and finished with a hell of a line: 33 points, 9 boards, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal in 42 minutes. One of those blocks was a huge rejection of a Wilson Chandler jumpshot in overtime. Pierce is really, really good and I really, really despise everything about him.
- The fact that Chris Duhon played more minutes (47) than Nate Robinson (27) and Toney Douglas (6) combined means that Coach D'Antoni has some reason beyond on-court performance to give him time. Chris is killing the Knicks out there.
- Danilo Gallinari was impressive early, but faded once again down the stretch. Though he, like everybody else on the team, had trouble with Paul Pierce, Gallo seemed willing to pull early and even drove on Pierce for a viscous two-handed dunk:
Check that post-dunk meanface. Awesome. Anyway, Gallo was doing things like that early, but was either bench-banished or snoozing in the corner for most of the second half. The city of New York demands more touches and shots for Gallo, and the blame for that falls on everybody involved. Danilo needs to get in position, and his teammates need to find him there.
- Did Rasheed Wallace ever buy property in the Boston area? I'm just saying...if you told me he'd been living in a really big box outside the TD Garden for the last six weeks, I'd believe you.
- They were filming a movie this afternoon at the Garden, which mention that Rosie Perez, Mark Wahlberg, and Will Ferrell were sitting courtside in some bizarre combination of dress clothes and Knicks apparel. Since Will Ferrell is Nate Robinson's muse, you bet your ass Nate picked today to break out of his season-long slump. Nate registered 19 points on 7-11 shooting, hit 3 threes, grabbed 3 boards, and even blocked a couple shots. MSG security should've seized the opportunity to shackle Ferrell to that chair.
- Wilson Chandler's offense (5-13, 11 points) came and went, but give him credit for mostly staunch defense on Garnett and whoever else he had to cover.
- Jill Martin's "Gimme a Minute" was with Tracy Morgan, who acknowledged owning 4 pet scorpions and 4 pet nurse sharks, because he "loves animals". He also pretty much confessed to having a tattoo on or near his genitals. I love Tracy Morgan.
- If you, like me, were completely dazzled by MSG's footage of the "Quick Change" halftime show, here's a rough sketch of how it works. If I were in charge, that sort of black magic would be banned. Too much for me.
- The margin was only three at halftime, but the Celtics started the third with a 9-0 run. The flurry of Knick excellence that followed thereafter was a sight to be seen. The Knick defense tightened up out of the blue, and Al Harrington came alive for 11 points in the period, including three downtown bombs.
- A couple of guys in the crowd were wearing rooster-themed hats, although Mike Breen and I both initially thought they were turkeys. Confusion aside, I love it, and recommend that somebody designs an orange and blue take on this for P&T to sell.
- Mike Breen really hates "The Wave", which leads me to believe that he had some grisly childhood mishap at a high school football game.
- Speaking of which, I must mention the late fourth quarter when Chandler secured a rebound, only to be intentionally tripped by Garnett and lose the ball out of bounds. No call was made, but the refs quickly made up for it by calling Ray Allen for a semi-legitimate elbow hook about 5 seconds later. I love the NBA.
- Eddy Curry's game is far from polished, but he's ready to get more minutes. The big fella battled with remarkable vigor against Rasheed Wallace, and got pissed off to the point that he responded to a non-call on Kendrick Perkins by spiking Rajon Rondo's tiny little body against the floor. It was flagrant in every sense of the word. In any event, I could see a starting Lee-Curry frontcourt working very well. Their games are different enough for it to run smoothly. Curry wanders around the paint on offense, while Lee sets high screens. Curry's been helping and switching pretty well on defense, while Lee is completely useless on that end. It's worth a try.
- Nobody makes Lee look sorrier on defense than Rajon Rondo does. When a 6-foot-high martian is scoring over you at will, you're doing something wrong.
- For all Lee's defensive pitfalls, he deserves credit for solid work otherwise. Lee finished with 22 points (including a number of very difficult righty finishes) and 15 boards in in 37 minutes. 5 turnovers, too, but whatever.
- Parents who let their kids sit on the baseline amidst the cameramen should probably have their tubes tied.
- Eddie House was seen pumping up Kevin Garnett by slapping him on the knees. Nice gesture, but probably not ideal.
- A summary of the last two possessions in overtime: Down 2, Larry Hughes make use of a relatively empty paint area (Boston was preventing the three-pointer) to find David Lee for an easy finish off the pick-and-roll. Timeout Celtics. Boston inbounds with 9 seconds left. Pierce, dribbles, dribbles, then gets a screen from Garnett. Both Lee and Chandler stick with Pierce, who finds Garnett. Harrington scrambles out far too late as KG sinks the game-winner. The Knicks had a foul to give the whole time. By my count, thats poor coaching, poor communication, and poor rotation all on one defensive possession. In a game of surprisingly competent D, that was disappointing.
- I said before that Danilo Gallinari needs more touches, and that's especially apparent in the fourth quarter. Gallo creates his own shot and passes well enough that I'd give him the ball every time down the floor in late-game scenarios. Al Harrington played well, but can't win a game by himself. Danilo might be able to do just that.
New York had a chance to pounce on a crumbling Celtics team this afternoon, but couldn't quite get the job done. That's quickly becoming a theme this year, and it'll remain that way until a leader (Gallo! Please!) steps up. Next game's Tuesday in L.A.