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Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks 03.26.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics all night. (AP)

J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics all night. (AP)

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.

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Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett loves Celtics, hates Craig Sager suits 02.18.13 at 11:23 am ET
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The only thing worse than the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities was TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager‘s suit — a hideous monstrosity even by Sager’s standards. No wonder Kevin Garnett won’t play in another All-Star Game.

“Hey, man, stop wearing stuff like this when you do real interviews,” said Garnett, who finished scoreless in just six minutes of action during the East’s 143-138 loss to the West. “Straight up.”

“What’s wrong with it?” asked Sager.

“You look like a Christmas ornament,” Garnett countered.

Gotta love Sager playing naive. Perhaps he forgot Garnett telling him in 2008, “You can’t just grab something from the 1970s and bring it back,” or in 2009, “You take this outfit home, and you burn it.” But surely he recalls Saturday’s All-Star Game practice, when a mutual love of clowning Sager’s suits resolved any lingering conflict over the taste of Honey Nut Cheerios between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony:

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Carmelo Anthony: Kevin Garnett feud ‘overrated,’ Celtics crowd ‘kind of quiet’ and Knicks win ‘satisfying’ 01.25.13 at 1:54 am ET
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Even before Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett and Knicks counterpart Carmelo Anthony‘s pregame fist bump, Boston’s Garden security starved the crowd of any further beef between the two NBA All-Star Game teammates, confiscating enough Honey Nut Cheerios paraphernalia to fill the rink for Friday’s Bruins game.

Of course, you’ll remember Anthony confronted Garnett at his team bus after the C’s defeated the Knicks, 102-96, in New York on Jan. 7. Rumors suggested KG told Melo his wife La La “tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios” — a claim all parties involved since denied — but Anthony earned a one-game suspension for his postgame antics.

“I think it was overrated,” said Anthony. “I think people just blew it up for no reason. They were just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen, but it’s sports. That’s what happens in sports.

On Thursday night, Anthony finally got his revenge, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dealing one of his three assists to teammate J.R. Smith for the dagger in an 89-86 “satisfying” victory in Boston.

“It was kind of quiet today for the most part,” Anthony said of a Garden crowd that NBA on TNT announcer Marv Albert accused of being artificially enhanced during the broadcast. “I was expecting there to be boos and a real hostile environment tonight, but it was cool for the most part.”

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Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid 01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET
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Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).

WHAT WENT WRONG

Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.

Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.

Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.

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Wasted chance: Knicks beat Celtics despite triple-double from Rajon Rondo at 10:35 pm ET
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Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points to lead the Knicks over the Celtics, 89-86, Thursday night at TD Garden. Rajon Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in collecting his 27th career triple-double and his fourth this season for the Celtics, who lost their fifth straight. The Celtics lost five straight twice last season before rallying at the end of the season for a 37-29 record and the Atlantic Division title.

They might not be as lucky this season, as the Atlantic-leading Knicks improved to 26-14, seven games ahead of the 20-22 Celtics in the division.

There were no war of words or trash-talking incidents between Kevin Garnett and Anthony, who greeted each other with a fist-pound at the beginning of the game. Anthony even helped Garnett up from the floor after Garnett hit the deck early in the third quarter.

The Celtics managed a 24-20 lead after one quarter, despite shooting just 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from the field. The Knicks started the second quarter on fire, opening on a 9-0 run and scoring 11 of the first 12 points in the period to take a 31-25 lead. But the Celtics answered as Paul Pierce started to dominate.

The Celtics went on a 15-3 run to take a 40-34 lead. The Knicks rebounded and managed a 50-48 halftime lead on a pair of free throws with 7.1 seconds left by Amar’e Stoudemire. Rondo missed a layup just before the buzzer that would’ve tied the game. Still Doc Rivers pounded his fist in the air and appeared happy with his team’s effort.

Rivers was particularly pleased with the fact that the Celtics held Anthony to just 4-for-13 shooting in the first 24 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc Rivers reiterates: ‘I have to figure out a way’ at 8:10 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said before Thursday night’s game with the Knicks that he still believes his team has what it takes to overcome the doldrums that have seen his team lose four straight after winning six in a row.

Rivers was asked if he had any changes in store for a big weekend of basketball that includes the Knicks, Hawks and Heat on Sunday.

“Let’s hope we don’t [have to make changes],’ Rivers said. “If we start playing better then you don’t, obviously. If you don’t [start playing better], then we have to do something at some point. Again, I think we have what we need in the locker room. I’m just not getting it out of them and I have to figure out a better way of getting it out of them.”

Rivers also said he hopes his team is inspired by the Kevin Garnett-Carmelo Anthony incident the last time the two teams met in New York, a 102-96 Boston win. Anthony was held to 20 points on 6-of-26 shooting from the field.

After getting into a confrontation late in the fourth quarter, Anthony tried to meet with Garnett in front of the Celtics locker room and then in front of the Celtics team bus before Madison Square Garden security and police intervened.

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Carmelo Anthony appeals fine related to Kevin Garnett confrontation at 10:28 am ET
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Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony says he’s moved on from the Kevin Garnett confrontation, but apparently his agent has not. According to the New York Post, the Players Association — after talking with Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose — filed an appeal to recoup the $176,000 Anthony lost as part of his one-game suspension.

The appeal is based on the fact that the Jan. 7 incident consisted only of verbal sparring.

“In light of the circumstances that it was not a physical confrontation, the suspension seemed excessive,” Players Association attorney Ron Klempner told the paper.

As per the collective bargaining agreement rules for one-game suspensions, Anthony was fined 1/110th of his $19.5 million salary.

Anthony and the Knicks are in Boston for a Thursday night game against the Celtics, their first meeting since the confrontation.

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