Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and KnicksTuesday, March 26th, 2013
J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.
Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.
All five starters scored in the first six minutes of the game for the Celtics, who were without Kevin Garnett (left foot) and Courtney Lee (left ankle) for the second straight game.
The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.
With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.
The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.
The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.
The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.
The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.