GAME 2: Celtics 96, Knicks 93

To say that the basketball gods have frowned upon the New York Knickerbockers these last two games would be an understatement as big as Zeus’s spites were bountiful.

Two days after a series of questionable calls led to the Celtics eking out a controversial 87-85 victory in Game 1, the Knicks once again let a late lead slip away down the stretch, falling to Boston 96-93.

This time it was Kevin Garnett who dealt the fatal blow, capping off a game in which he shot just 6-16 with a deft jump hook in the middle of the lane over Jared Jeffries.

The Knicks still had 13.6 seconds left on the clock, but KG once again came up aces, raking the ball from Jeffries underneath the basket – after the second Melo pass out of a double-team in as many possessions – and calling a timeout.

Delonte West was then rather mysteriously permitted to scurry in the back court long enough to drain all but 0.6 off the clock, before finally being fouled and subsequently hitting both free throws. Needless to say, it wasn’t nearly enough time for the Knicks to launch even a desperation heave.

In the face of yet another Olympian slight, Carmelo Anthony was Sisyphus in spades, rolling the Boston boulder as far up the crest as he could — scoring 42 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and dishing six assists — before the inevitable, crushing rollback.

On the heels of a sub-par Game 1, it was one of the greatest single-handed performances in recent playoff memory – and certainly one of the best ever in a losing effort.

In short: another charcoal lining on a mushrooming thundercloud of misfortune that has seen the Knicks lose each of their last three games to the Celtics in increasingly heartbreaking fashion (the final game of the season aside).

New York had gone up 93-92 after Jeffries converted a beautiful feed from Melo in the lane with just over 20 seconds remaining. But Doc Rivers once again chalked mate during the subsequent timeout, going immediately to KG on the block despite his floor leader’s shaky showing.

Toney Douglas struggled opposite Rajon Rondo, scoring 14 on 16 shots while giving up 30 to his rejuvenated counterpart. Indeed, Rondo seemed at times to score at will in the paint, where he netted an ungodly 24 of his points.

While many thought the absence of Chauncey Billups could be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks, Rivers instead instructed his young general to go right at the Knicks’ weak interior – a strategy that paid immediate and lasting dividends.

Only three Knicks – Melo, TD and….wait for it….. JARED JEFFRIES – scored in double figures.  Overall the team netted a woeful eFG% of 40%, as the Celtic D once again ratcheted up at key moments throughout.

Shockingly, rebounding kept the Knicks in the game, as they out-boarded the Celtics by an astounding 16 (53-37), including 20 on the offensive end.

Despite lacking the services of both Billups (knee strain) and Amar’e Stoudemire (who left mid way through the second quarter with back spasms and didn’t return), the Knicks showed a toughness and force of will that compelled Mike D’Antoni to claim that he’d “never been more proud of a team for how they battled”.

No small statement for a guy not exactly prone to hyperbole.

With two full days before Friday’s Game 3 in New York, the Bockers have to hope the extra rest will suffice to put them at full strength. At the very least, they know they’ll be able to count a near 20,000 more in their corner when that time comes.

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

31 thoughts to “GAME 2: Celtics 96, Knicks 93”

  1. If there’s one thing I took from this game, it’s that Boston is really fragile. They can’t take us on if two of our players get hot. I can’t wait for Game 3 in what could turn into the most interesting series of the entire playoffs.

  2. Obviously game 3 is do or die. If Stat comes back strong we should be just fine and maybe we even get Chauncy back. I cannot wait until Friday, boston has plenty of weaknesses that have been exploited early in this series and we should all still be confident in our teams ability to dominate on our home floor with the best fans in the world behind them. We can still take this damn thing. We just have to get that first win under our belt and then who knows. We showed tonight that we have the heart and I still honestly believe that we could and should take games 3 and 4 in MSG. Im so tired of the boston celtics. Lets Go NY.

  3. So we

    A) trade 3/5 of our starting lineup for Carmelo Anthony

    Then we

    B) lose 3/5 of our new starting lineup to injury/ineptitude (Fields)

    And we proceed to come within 1 possession of winning a playoff game.


    Even Marv said at one point “it’s down to just Anthony and four scrubs”… Those scrubs have names, damn it! Douglas, Walker, Jeffries, and Mason Jr.


    It’s been an odd, odd, odd season in NY…

  4. Obviously game 3 is do or die.

    It’d be pretty fun to come back from down 0-3 to win the series, though!

  5. It would really really suck if the Knicks didn’t somehow win game 3. After all that effort in the first 2 games and playing so hard shorthanded yesterday, to be down 3-0 would just feel like they accomplished nothing in the playoffs. (plus I have a personal stake in it as I have tickets for game 4!)

  6. I was very proud of how the team played last night. Melo truly played a wonderful game. Of course I was disappointed with the result and agree with the criticism of how Coach strategized on a number of levels–the time out, e.g. If the last play to Jeffries was scripted, it was a bad idea, plain and simple. You can’t give the last possession to a guy who is historically inept on offense. I don’t care what he did this particular game. Dumb, IMO. If it wasn’t scripted by Coach, then it’s on Melo, despite his performance. On the other hand, Coach kept the squad together and they were clearly fired up. I agree with Spree in a previous thread. If we are healthy, we take the next two games and return to Boston with the series tied. Let’s see how we play, healthy and after a couple of wins at the Garden.

  7. It didn’t help that Big Baby and Rondo got away with some violations down the stretch. Sure, there were calls in the Knicks favor, but these two Celtic ones were huge because it resulted in 3 points in the 4th quarter alone. The Knicks didn’t get as many calls in the 4th as the Celts.

    Video and breakdown of bad calls/no-calls in the 4th quater is here:

  8. I don’t know what to say…that last play is all on Jefferies. He’s a g’damn NBA player, he has got to make/take that open layup. Really how could he let his entire team down like that. What do they say to him in the locker room? What does he say? You can blame D’Antoni for having him in, drawing that play but perhaps it only gets so wide open because it was a guy like Jefferies, if Amare was magically reinserted no way does Garnett even give him a microsecond of inattention.

  9. I thought KG closed of Jeffries pretty quickly. His best option would have been to make an easier pass TD. TD should have slid down to the corner to give Jeffries a better angle.

  10. I can’t make myself mad at Jeffries for having trouble in the last seconds. Many players could have trouble against an aggressive Boston defense trying to make a last second shot the team needed. The Knicks didn’t manage it in the last game either, and it wasn’t Jeffries who tried to score. A heavily defended 3 pointer from Melo would probably have had a 30% chance of going in and the chance of Jeffries doing something from two feet from the basket was probably at least as good. It’s just that the chances are low no matter what play you call. I would also point out that the Knicks wouldn’t have been close enough for one shot to make a difference if Jeffries hadn’t made a driving layup in around Kevin Garnett on the previous Knick’s possession. This is another reason it’s hard to be mad at him. The game was a team effort, but Boston was just a little tougher at the end than the Knicks were.

  11. thing is, even if Jeffries had missed that shot, Walker would most likely have gotten the rebound and had an easy dunk. But c’est la vie. It still feels like this Celtic team is about to crack.

  12. Dave Berri is always talking about how all NBA players can create their own shots. I tend to agree, but that’s only because Jared Jeffries shouldn’t be in the league. No one with that lack of ball skills should have a place on a roster.

  13. Gotta feel for Jeffries but yeah, that’s all on him. He’s 7 feet tall and about two feet from the rim. Just throw it anywhere in the vicinity of the rim Jared!

    Shit I’m exhausted from these games. I feel beaten up.

    I really hope we blow those bastard out in game 3. I can’t take another close one.

  14. Look, I know there is hatred for Jeffries out there, but he has his uses. He’s scrappy, gets to loose balls, grabs offensive rebounds. With Melo and Amar’e, not exactly the best drive and kickers, having another shooter out there isn’t as beneficial as say with a CP3 or Nash (who both by the way, would be poor fits on this Knick team as can be evidenced by what Melo can do with the ball in his hands).

    I’d like to see Shelden Williams in there more when JO is in there. He’s a much better hardnosed banger. The Knicks have the rebounding skills, just not the size. They’ve shown the desire.

    I don’t need Landry Fields to drive or handle the ball. In his third year, I can see him being an effective 3rd or 4th option, as a slasher, when he finally learns how to move crisper with the ball. As it is, he seems to be moving like molassis whenever he puts the ball on the floor. That being said, Landry Fields is FAR more effective against Ray Allen than Walker is. I have no idea why Walker, who shot 0-11, was in the game when he was an offensive non-contributor, whereas Fields, who has similar spot up shooting efficiency wasn’t, despite being twice the defensive player Walker is. There’s no need to get Fields going on drives. His biggest contribution, other than his rebounding ball-sense prowess, was his corner spot up 3. It’s year 1, that’s all he really needs to contribute. Hit your open 3, lock down your man, crash the boards.

    Shore those up, and Carmelo and Amar’e will both be able to handle the scoring load.

    The only way the Knicks will win this series is if Melo becomes LeBron James. He needs to be able to get his points while getting his teammates open bombs to keep them involved. I’d be happy having him drive and kick to Amar’e as well, for the spot up 18ft. Despite people thinking Amar’e had such an amazing game 1, most of his drives down low were very suspect, and usually, a last resort option, that went in.

  15. ess-dog: Gotta feel for Jeffries but yeah, that’s all on him. He’s 7 feet tall and about two feet from the rim. Just throw it anywhere in the vicinity of the rim Jared!Shit I’m exhausted from these games. I feel beaten up.I really hope we blow those bastard out in game 3. I can’t take another close one.

    Yea, I agree. He’s the biggest pussy around the basket. He has open dunks that he lays up. I really hate that part of his game.

    We really need a DeAndre Jordan next year to shore up the front end and look for a Pass First PG in the draft to develop behind Chauncey.

  16. That being said, amazing effort from Melo and the scrub patrol to make that a game.

    I’m not conceding this series or anything, but NEXT year could be really interesting if we can get a big that can board and is just moderately better as a shooter/ball-handler than Jeffries (Faried) and another excellent sub. We need a few players in between Melo and the Carters, Jeffries’ and Mason Jr’s of the world.

  17. The moment Mason Jr. didn’t shoot that Open 3 near the top of the key, he should have been pulled. That being said, he did hit an important 3 down the stretch, and as we saw on TV, I believe Melo was yelling (in a good way) at his teammates to be confident, and take the open shots. He can’t go 1 on 5, and he knows it.

    That also shows to me that Melo does have heart. I just think he kind of Melo’s out when Amar’e is on the floor. You need to find a middle ground between Douglas and Mason Jr. Douglas is way too confident even when he is having an off-game, and Mason Jr. completely loses his confidence when he has an off-game.

  18. So according to Adrian “asshole” Wojnarowski, Melo passed to Jeffries because he didnt want to get criticized for missing the final shot. Amazing analysis.

  19. That ranks up there with something I saw in the Post yesterday, where they had a list of 6 ex-Knicks (Randolph, Gallo, etc.) that scored a total of 90 points on Sunday vs. the 85 the current Knicks scored against the C’s. The list included Harrington’s 5 for Denver. Very insightful, and thought provoking as well!

  20. I read things like that and I have to repeatedly tell myself “they’re just saying it to attract eyes” or I fear I will suffer an aneurysm.

  21. Nick C.:
    I read that too BBA and was just as disgusted.

    Plus the fact that apparently he wasnt upset that they lost because he played good. Unbelievable.


    I was so unprepared for him to pen something logical that I agreed with that I’m unsure how to react.

    “As it turned out, Anthony fell a basket or two short of giving the Knicks their first playoff victory in 10 years. But he didn’t deserve to be ripped over the choice to make that last pass.

    It was the selfless play, the right play, the play Magic or Bird would have made in a flash.

    Too bad Melo didn’t have Worthy or McHale on the other end of it.”

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