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Kevin Garnett: ‘I’m going to play until it’s over’

04.27.13 at 2:05 am ET
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Not even Kevin Garnett‘s indomitable spirit could save these Celtics on Friday night.

It’s not that they didn’t want to win Game 3 against the Knicks. They desperately wanted it. Not just to avoid a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 hole in the first round of these NBA Playoffs, but to mend their city’s broken heart. To give Bostonians something to believe in. The Celtics just couldn’t will anything better than a 90-76 defeat.

“Obviously, the result is not what we wanted,” said Garnett, “but looking in the stands, seeing people drunk, having fun and high-fiving for the most part was good. It was a good two-and-a-half hour diversion if you will.”

If the C’s want anything beyond another short-lived diversion on Sunday, they need more than Garnett’s ever-beating heart, which manufactured 12 points and 17 rebounds on a tough shooting night (5-13 FG).

“I’m going to play until it’s over,” said Garnett, who contributed 35 minutes in the loss. “I’m not usually broken. It’s always been my mentality. It always probably will. That’s what it is. I’ve been to the bottom before. I know what it is. I’m a fighter at the end of the day, but it takes more than one person.”

Actually, it’ll take every person to avoid a sweep. Three Knicks again did the damage — Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith combining for 56 points — and the C’s lacked the firepower to respond. Jeff Green and Paul Pierce committed 10 turnovers, and everyone else was worse. Garnett’s guts only get them so far.

“He was fantastic,” said a nostalgic Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “It’s why you love him. I got the sense that he was getting frustrated, because he wanted them to be him. In the same spirit. But he just kept chugging along. He didn’t change. He didn’t change his demeanor. He’s as competitive a human being as I’ve ever been around.”

Only they’re not him. They’re Jason Terry, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford. And it doesn’t appear they’re good enough to beat these Knicks. No matter how hard they try.

“They’ve been playing hard,” said Knicks center Tyson Chandler, an All-Star who hasn’t even been needed in this series. “We’ve just forced them into tough situations defensively and have been able to kind of wear them down.”

The C’s are certainly worn down. They’re frustrated. They held an extended meeting behind closed locker room doors after the loss. And then Garnett, Pierce and Rajon Rondo had another lengthy private conversation as reporters waited more than an hour for any Celtics star to answer the many questions facing this team.

“When a team is making shots and executing and playing very well, that can kill your spirit,” said Garnett. “If you haven’t been here and you haven’t experienced playoff play and understand the whole thing of it, those are the times you have to band together, you have to take some punches. We took them, but we didn’t really give none back. I mean, when we messed up, they made us pay for it. Good teams are going to do that.”

The C’s holy trinity of Garnett, Pierce and Rondo made their names on that execution style of spirit killing. The rest of the roster? Not so much. And Rondo was the brilliant maestro of that execution. Maybe they can take solace in the fact a bunch of idiots from Boston once came back from down 3-0 to beat some New York team back in 2004.

That and Garnett’s indomitable spirit. “That’s what it is,” finished KG. “It’s all out. Nothing left. Leave it out there on the floor. That’s where we’re at. There’s no other choice. We’re out of options here.” Hey, anything is possible.

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