|Carmelo Anthony channels Bernard King, and why the Celtics should pay attention to history||04.20.11 at 7:24 pm ET|
It’s becoming fairly obvious that if Carmelo Anthony doesn’t carry the Knicks, this series will be over in four hard-fought games.
The Knicks have two very banged up stars in Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire, both of whom are very questionable for Friday’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden as the Celtics lead the series, 2-0, and need just two more wins to advance to the Eastern Conference semis.
The thing is Anthony almost DID do it by himself in Game 2 Tuesday. He scored 42 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. But that wasn’t the first time a Knicks star put the team on his back and carried them.
All Knicks fans either remember – or have been reminded of – captain Willis Reed in Game 7 limping onto the court at Madison Square Garden, inspiring his team to a NBA title-clinching win over the Lakers in 1970.
But the more appropriate and obvious comparison is to No. 30 Bernard King.
The year was 1984. The Knicks were on the road at Joe Louis Arena for a decisive Game 5. They were underdogs and Isaiah Thomas was electrifying the crowd. But King didn’t flinch – even with the Detroit crowd going nuts.
He poured in 44 points to lead his team to an amazing 127-123 overtime win and a ticket to the Eastern Conference semis against the Celtics.
But what make Bernard King’s performance truly amazing was that it was the fourth straight game of at least 40 points, even with everyone in the world knowing he was getting the ball. Starting with back-to-back 46-point games in Games 2 and 3, King was the best player in the series. He followed that up with a mundane 41 points in Game 4 before lighting the board for 44 in Game 5. Take a trip down memory lane with Marv Albert and John Andraiese, both of whom are still broadcasting NBA games 27 years later.
In 1984, the Celtics were on a playoff run that ended with an electrifying win over the Lakers in Game 7 in the NBA finals. But Boston’s 15th NBA title nearly didn’t happen. King had 43 in New York’s Game 4 win at MSG and 44 more in Game 6 back in New York to force Game 7. The Celtics eventually survived the Knicks in seven fierce games. Sound familiar?
What was it like for Melo on Tuesday night, trying to do for his Knicks teammates what King did 27 years ago?
‘It was fun, for the most part,” Anthony said. “We were out there fighting man. My teammates stuck with me, I had confidence in them. It was just a battle. It came down to a couple of plays down the stretch, but for the most part throughout the whole game I think we played fantastic.
“Defensively we did, offensively I kind of had it going tonight. I made other guys better, they felt confident out there when they got the ball to make something happen. KG hit a tough shot over Jared, contested shot. For the most part we played great tonight. We can’t hang our heads over something like this. We’ve got to take this and build on it going back home.’
And Anthony repeated his mantra of Game 1 that the Celtics didn’t do anything special in winning the first two games. They just held serve.
‘There were some things when you look back you say ‘We could have done this, we could have done that, we could be up 2-0 if we did some things right,'” Anthony added. “For the most part, we are playing our [butts] off. We’re playing great. For some guys, this is their first time in the playoffs and for them to be stepping up to the plate like that, taking on the challenge against a championship team like the Celtics, we’re doing great. The Celtics didn’t do anything special, they won 2 games on their home court. Now it’s our turn to do the same thing.’
|Amar’e Stoudemire’s back picks a really bad time to act up||04.19.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
Knicks superstar power forward Amar’e Stoudemire couldn’t have picked a worse time to experience back spasms for the first time in his career. After tweaking his back during a dunk in warmups, Stoudemire said he felt the twinge get worse during the first half.
He was limited to 2-of-9 shooting in 18 minutes and finished with just four points as the Knicks couldn’t quite overcome his absence in a 96-93 loss to the Celtics Tuesday night at TD Garden.
‘I believe it happened in warmups,” said Stoudemire, who had to stand for his postgame press conference because his back was still so tight. “I touched the top of the glass with my left hand and dunked it with my right. I think that’s when I felt it really get tight on me.
“I could hardly move. I was trying to play through it. I went to the trainers and staff, was getting worked on there before the game, right before the national anthem I got up and stood up for the anthem and tried to get a little more work done. I just couldn’t get quite totally loose. I tried to play on it and pushed through it, but for the most part, I played the first quarter and second quarter, after that it was a sharp pain and I couldn’t continue.’
Stoudemire said this was the first time in his career he experienced the injury and is hoping treatment in the next two days will have him ready when the series resumes Friday at Madison Square Garden.
‘I never had back spasms before, so I guess it’s just a normal back spasm,” he said. “Take time for it to relax, but I should be ready for Game 3. I’m not sure, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow, and the next day, and then I’m pretty, sure hopefully I’ll be ready to go by Friday.’
Stoudemire watched from the TV in the locker room as Carmelo Anthony almost single-handedly led the Knicks to victory.
‘Yeah I was getting treatment for the full second half,” Stoudemire said. “I watched the game on the TV screen, but meanwhile I was getting treatment the whole time. I was trying to loosen up the back, trying to get ready to come out there in the second half or third quarter. I just couldn’t get the back to release hardly any. It took awhile for me to get comfortable, still in somewhat pain now. But hopefully, in the next few days, it will release.
‘They played great,” Stoudemire said of Anthony. “Carmelo shot the ball extremely well tonight, something that we needed. And the rest of the guys stepped up to play, they played great tonight. That’s something that we need, hopefully some confidence from tonight’s game will grow for Friday.”
With the Celtics trailing 93-92 with 19 seconds remaining, Celtics coach Doc Rivers called for Kevin Garnett to post up Jared Jefferies on the block. He did, backed down Jefferies and made a hook shot over him with 13 seconds to play. Moments later, on a loose ball that Jefferies lost underneath the Knicks basket, Garnett dove to the floor, grabbed the ball and called timeout with four seconds left. Delonte West made a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds on the clock, and the C’s held on for a 96-93 victory to take a 2-0 lead against the Knicks.
The C’s spoiled a remarkable 42-point, 17-rebound effort from Carmelo Anthony, who singlehandedly kept the Knicks in the game after losing Amar’e Stoudemire to back spasms. The Celtics’ Big Four all reached double figures, led by Rajon Rondo‘s 30 points and Paul Pierce‘s 20.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rondo attacks early: With Chauncey Billups (strained left knee) sidelined and Toney Douglas starting for the Knicks, Rondo went to work. He released on New York field-goal attempts, and his Celtics teammates hit him in stride on the break for layup after layup. As Rondo outscored the Knicks 12-11 in the first 7:08, Douglas committed two fouls — leaving the visitors extremely thin at the point guard position. Generally, when Rondo attacks in transition, the Celtics succeed, and Game 2 was no different.
Rondo attacks late: While Anthony was busy scoring at a ridiculous pace or drawing enough defenders to open up opportunities for his teammates, Rondo kept the Celtics in the game during the fourth quarter. Once again taking advantage of the Douglas matchup, he scored three straight layups midway through the fourth that either tied the game or gave the Celtics a late lead. And he even added a 17-foot jump shot that put the Celtics up 88-86 advantage with four and a half minutes remaining.
Denying Stoudemire the ball: Whether it was Stoudemire’s comments before the game or the back spasms that forced him to leave the game in the second quarter, Garnett completely neutralized his defensive assignment. In 16 first-half minutes, Stoudemire shot just 2-of-9 from the field and scored four points — a far cry from his 12-of-18, 28-point performance in Game 1.
Between the first two games of the series, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the game plan was to deny Stoudemire the ball, thus stopping him before he ever gets going. The Celtics attempted to do that in the first game but couldn’t until Garnett succeeded in the final minutes. Game 2 was an entirely different story — whether it was all Garnett’s defense or part that/part injury.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Melo being Melo … and then some: After being called out by just about every New York media outlet after his 1-of-11 shooting performance in the second half of the Knicks’ Game 1 loss, Anthony returned to his All-Star form. Considering he was the only member of the Knicks’ Big Three left standing, the Knicks desperately needed him to rise to the occasion. And he did, scoring 13 straight points during one second-half stretch and finishing with 42 points (the highest individual total against the C’s this season), 17 rebounds and six assists on the night.
Another lost opportunity: After taking an early 10-point lead in the first quarter, the Celtics had a golden opportunity to make Game 2 a lot more comfortable than Game 1, especially considering the Billups/Stoudemire injuries and the fact that Landry Fields appeared completely lost. But the bench couldn’t hold the advantage that the starters staked them to, and the gap closed to 23-21 after one quarter. It got worse, too, as the Billups-less, Stoudemire-less Knicks took a 45-44 lead into the break, thanks to Anthony’s 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Knicks wipe the glass clean: How did the Knicks shoot just 35.6 percent from the field for the game and actually lead a playoff game in the final minute? Well, they grabbed 20 of their 53 rebounds on the offensive end. By contrast, the Celtics had 37 rebounds (9 offensively). It’s been a problem all season long for the Celtics, and continued to be in Game 2 — despite facing a Knicks team that’s been poor in that respect.
|Irish Coffee: Amar’e Stoudemire vs. Glen Davis, Round 3||at 1:26 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Celtics Sixth Man Glen Davis threw the first jab at Amar’e Stoudemire, but the Knicks’ All-Star power forward has responded with a 1-2 punch before each game of their first-round series. In the latest installment of “Look Who’s Talking Trash,” during a discussion about “pulling the chair” on Davis in the second quarter of Game 1, Stoudemire told the New York Post:
“I’m just playing smart. I know ‘Baby’ wanted to try to draw contact and draw fouls. His core is not really as tight as it should be, so I knew I can catch him off-balance from that. I kind of backed up, but I thought he traveled on the play, but he turned the ball over.”
Not only does Stoudemire (aka, STAT: Standing Tall and Talented) believe the 6-foot-9, 295-pound Davis can’t guard him in Game 2 on Tuesday, the four-time All-NBA selection — who scored 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting in his team’s 87-85 loss on Sunday — doesn’t think anybody on the Celtics can stop him in this series, including Garnett, the league’s second-leading vote getter for Defensive Player of the Year:
“I don’t think there’s anything they can do. Besides try to deny me the ball. But there’s ways to get open. … I feel great. It’s still the same old me. And the playoffs always bring the best out of me. It’s going to get even better as the series goes on.”
Stoudemire’s feud with Davis began prior to Game 1, when Big Baby explained to the Post that he didn’t believe the Knicks’ $100 million man was all that difficult to defend and that New York’s center-by-committee provided the Celtics a perfect opportunity to rest the ailing Shaquille O’Neal (who will also miss Game 2):
|For one game, Paul Pierce schools Carmelo Anthony, and Melo is unimpressed||04.18.11 at 1:21 pm ET|
One NBA superstar looked the role of having been in the playoff spotlight.
The other blinded by it late in the game when it mattered.
One executed his team’s final play to perfection and the other heaved up a desperation shot, hoping it would go in.
For one night, Paul Pierce got the best of Carmelo Anthony.
Aside from the second quarter, when Anthony scored 12 of his 15 points, Pierce completely frustrated and shut down Anthony. And in the second half, Anthony made just one of his 11 shots, finishing 5-for-18. But Anthony wasn’t falling over himself to praise Pierce afterward.
“As far as Paul Pierce, the matchup, I don’t think he did anything out of the ordinary or special tonight as far as defending me,” Anthony said unimpressed. “I think the Celtics, they were themselves, they load the paint up, every time I caught it, they loaded the side up, they shifted court.
“I missed some shots I normally make, I’m not too concerned about my individual performance or anything like that. As a team I think we did a hell of a job of just competing out there. We did some things great for the most part of the game, we got back and look at some film, make a couple adjustments, and get ready for Game 2. I’m excited about this series though.’
Pierce was in the right place at the right time as Anthony lost his composure with 21.0 seconds left, flailing his elbow toward Pierce and getting called the offensive foul.
‘As far as that offensive foul goes, what I thought and what they called was two different things,” Anthony said. “So, it is what it is, he called it and it’s over with.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Playoff bloggers Kevin Garnett & Landry Fields||at 11:38 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
After writing prior to his team’s Game 1 matchup against the Knicks, the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett posted another entry to his Anta blog following the 87-85 first-round victory. Here are the highlights …
Game was up and down. Emotional roller coaster. … We got down early and at the half was down . We don’t quit and we grinded all game. Had to bring my “hard hat” to work today and just kept grinding. Down three with less then 40 seconds left in the game, coach [Doc Rivers] ran the fake cut to the alley-oop to me. [Rajon] Rondo made a hell of a pass! …
Down still 1, P2 [Paul Pierce] played some great defense and then it set up for a play where I NEEDED TO get Ray [Allen] open. RAY RAY hit the big shot … a 3 no less. … We did what we were supposed to (win at home), but still felt good to come back and lock up the win.
Game 2 on Tuesday. Sometimes, I get too hyped and move too quickly. Feel it best to relax and get into my game. JO [Jermaine O’Neal] really stepped up and I felt as though the flow was better for him.
Garnett shot just 5-of-14 from the field for 15 points, but he grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out three assists and swiped three steals. While Dwight Howard reportedly captured the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, Garnett is expected to make the All-Defense First Team, and he finally locked Amar’e Stoudemire down in the final two minutes of the victory.
Meanwhile, Knicks starting shooting guard Landry Fields contributed to his ongoing playoff blog for the New York Post. Here’s what he had to say …
|Doc Rivers, Celtics drop Knicks, execution style||at 1:25 am ET|
In the days before Game 1 of his team’s first-round series against the Knicks, Celtics president Danny Ainge said, “The biggest fear I have is the respect I have for Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire finishing games.” And prior to the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers echoed that sentiment.
But after the Knicks blew a 12-point halftime lead and after the Celtics finished an 87-85 comeback victory, both teams sang a different tune. The experienced Celtics executed. And the unfamiliar Knicks didn’t.
“We had a 13-point third quarter,” said Knicks sixth man Bill Walker, who was traded from the Celtics in the Nate Robinson deal last season. “We didn’t move the ball. They loaded up their defense, and once they load up their defense, they’re pretty good. They’ve got a former Defensive Player of the Year [Kevin Garnett], Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] are great defenders themselves and [Rajon] Rondo‘s a ball hawk. So, once they get set and know what you’re doing, it’s pretty hard to score. We’ve just got to keep them in transition and run them.”
Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups did their part in the first half, combining for 31 of New York’s 51 first-half points on 11-of-19 shooting. But it all fell apart in the second half.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a blowout in this series,” said Rondo, “so the team that executes down the stretch usually finds a way to win.”
In Game 1, that team was the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics.
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