The Celtics returned home after two weeks away and a reunion broke out. With Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens back at the Garden but in the colors of the New York Knicks, the pregame atmosphere had an almost surreal quality to it with House poking his head into the Celtics locker room saying, “Yeah, I know it’s the wrong one.”
The game between the Celtics and Knicks wasn’t any less bizarre. The Celtics built a double-digit lead only to see it collapse in the second quarter when the starting five came back into the game. They dominated in the paint, held the Knicks in check on the boards and turned it over only 13 times.
And they still needed a fourth quarter push to pull out a 110-106 victory.
Part of that was the game’s pace, which was strongly in New York’s favor, and part of that was the 27 3-point attempts the Knicks lobbed at the basket. But a win is a win, and the Celtics will take all of them that they can get, no matter how strange the circumstances.
Turning Point: In a game that featured 159 shots, the biggest play came on a possession that didn’t result in a field goal attempt. With the Celtics clinging to a 109-106 lead and less than a minute to play, Ray Allen appeared from out of nowhere and cleanly swatted Wilson Chandler’s drive to the basket resulting in a 24-second violation and a much-needed stop.
Player of the Game: Rajon Rondo. A couple of different options here, but Rondo’s 15 points and 16 assists get the nod over Kevin Garnett’s overall game, which was also strong. Rondo also had an emphatic slam when the Knicks backed off guarding him and gave him an open lane to the basket.
* Marquis Daniels started for Paul Pierce who was home sick with the flu and also resting his injured thumb. Daniels scored 14 points.
* All five Celtic starters had double figures in points before the end of the third quarter.
* Garnett got up for a vicious alley-oop dunk off a pass from Rondo in the first quarter. Garnett got loose for a number of backdoor cuts, but that was the only one they connected on for a dunk.
* The Celtics scored 38 points and shot 61 percent from the floor in the first quarter.
* Eddie House who received a stirring video tribute during a timeout. The crowd rose for a standing ovation and broke into a spontaneous “Ed-die, Ed-die” chant. House acknowledged the crowd, in turn.
* Nate Robinson also received a rousing welcome from the Garden crowd when he checked in late in the quarter. As promised by Doc Rivers he did see time with Rondo in the backcourt. Robinson had just four points, one rebound and one assist on 2-for-7 shooting.
* Bill Walker scored seven points and seems to have already made a strong impression on his new team. There’s a good chance Walker will get an opportunity to earn a roster spot with the Knicks next season.