Tonight at the TD Bank North Garden, the Knicks (26-14) defeated the Boston Celtics (20-22), 89-86. Box Score
After that, perhaps all you really need to know is that the Knicks got their first win in Boston since 2006, something that is absolutely bananas. 2006 was a really long time ago. Barack Obama was just a young senator, we were all still pretty steamed about that “Crash” Best Picture nonsense and a 20-something Brian DiMenna was convinced that Isiah Thomas just needed time, “We might really have something in this Jackie Butler!“
Carmelo Anthony struggled in the first half, but got it going in the second, finishing with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-28 shooting, including just 1-of-6 from three-point range. A gritty effort, Melo also grabbed nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Knicks overcame a nightmare shooting night from J.R. Smith, who missed 13 of his sixteen shots en route to just nine points overall.
Amar’e Stoudemire had one of his better games, scoring 12 points in the first half and finishing with 15 in his twenty minutes of action. Stoudemire added nine rebounds and two blocks in one of his better overall efforts.
Stretched out to 27 minutes, Iman Shumpert also did most of his work in the first half, scoring all of his 10 points before halftime.
The Celtics were led by a triple-double from Rajon Rondo, who dropped in 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, though man I swear it didn’t feel quite that dominant in the viewing.
Both teams struggled from the field, with the Knicks shooting just 38% for the game, including 8-of-28 from three-point range, while the Celtics shot 41%, but were just 3-of-18 from three.
Just a really, really good win, if not necessarily a pretty one, but a win the Knicks desperately needed to have, if for no other reason than it’s simply outrageous to go seven years without winning on one of your key rivals’ home floor. That’s the type of streak that just has to be broken, and so it was.
Oddly enough, after almost single-handedly killing the Knicks throughout most of the game, it was J.R. Smith who drilled his only three pointer of the night with just over a minute to go that essentially clinched the victory. Smith followed it up by forcing a couple of key turnovers against Paul Pierce in the closing moments and what had been a truly terrible game became just another clutch performance. In other words, it was kind of a J.R. Smith.
For me, the most exciting aspect of this game was the first half turned in by Amar’e Stoudemire. There was a stretch during the first 24 minutes where Stoudemire was an absolute force, including while playing alongside Melo and Tyson Chandler, something that you’d definitely like to see work effectively more consistently as time goes by. Now STAT played sparingly in the second half, and his run in the fourth quarter alongside Chandler and Anthony did appear to grind the team’s offense into something of a sticky glue, but it was nonetheless another key step in the right direction as he works his way back into the mix.
The same can be said for Iman Shumpert, who showed off a nice shooting touch in the first half, but slowed down in he second, though he played a key role in the last minute on the defensive end, as the Knicks were able to buckle down and finally keep Paul Pierce from draining the type of late jumper that has usually made me want to light myself on fire. Tonight, I didn’t even have to spend the usual fifteen minutes staring at a box of matches and wondering if that would even work.
Filling out some odds and ends, James White got the start, though no one really noticed, while Kurt Thomas played what the box score says was one minute and 42 seconds, but I swear it felt like an eternity.
In more important matters, there was Melo, who didn’t play one of his better games, struggling through a pretty awful first half. In the second, he finally got going a bit, though down the stretch the offense lacked fluidity and looked a little like the iso-heavy mess we’ve seen at times, though I’m not sure I’d say Anthony was really to blame. Nonetheless, it was more of a workman-like effort from Carmelo, but he did enough to help earn the win and continued to battle on the boards.
The Knicks play again Saturday against the Sixers and could welcome back Ray Felton to the mix. We’ve seen this team struggle for several weeks now, but as we head toward the All-Star break, things finally seem to be breaking the Knicks’ way, with a chance to finally play at full strength appearing to be at hand and the necessary pieces beginning to coalesce. You might be so inclined to still feel pessimistic, but at this point, there’s really no reason to.