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Thursday, December 16, 2010

This is why the Celtics are damn good

There were a million reasons why the Boston Celtics should have lost to the New York Knicks last night at Madison Square Garden.

Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal were out, Rajon Rondo sprained his ankle badly and oh by the way, with Amar'e Stoudemire (39 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) the Knicks (16-10) are a legitimate team for the first time in more than a decade.

New York showed why they came in riding an 8-game winning steak as they led virtually the entire game. However, when it counted (are you listening Bruins?) Paul Pierce (32 points, 10 rebounds) hit a patented jumper over Stoudemire with 0.4 seconds left giving Boston (20-4) a 118-116 win, their 11th straight victory.

Sure Stoudemire hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer but even Spike Lee (who has suddenly reappeared now that the Knicks are relevant again) couldn't possibly believe his new boy could hoist a shot in 0.4 seconds, it's impossible!

So there we go, the Celtics survived and it was thanks to their veteran moxie oozing from Kevin Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds), Ray Allen (26 points), Rondo (10 points, 14 assists) and Glen Davis (11 points). Even Nate Robinson (9 points) made some plays in his return to MSG, but undoubtedly his most lasting contribution will be the face plant he took after he jumped on Pierce following the Truth's game-winner.

Since they've been down for so long, it is honestly nice to see the Knicks be important again in the NBA. New York is a great basketball city and they deserve a worthy franchise, not the smoldering wreck they've been for the last decade.

Stoudemire's MVP caliber play has led to the emergence of Raymond Felton (26 points, 14 assists) and Wilson Chandler (18 points, 12 rebounds). Danillo Gallinari is also a budding star, dropping all 20 of his points in the second half.

New York led 32-24 after one quarter after a hot start and 58-51 at halftime after Felton's running 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Both teams scored 32 points in the third quarter and the Celts got it done in the fourth quarter (35-26).

The Knicks shot 53.1% to the Celtics' 52.3%. New York hit more 3-pointers (9-7) and they each hit 21 free throws. Boston had four more rebounds (39-35), seven more assists (26-19) and six more steals (11-5).

The only thing that will hold New York back is their allergy to defense. Sure Mike Dantoni's style is fun to watch but when they get to the playoffs, it's been proven time and again that tempo doesn't work (Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors).

Bad news today that Rondo could be out for weeks with the ankle sprain. The Celts host the Hawks tonight in a TNT game.

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