Rapid Reaction: Knicks 87, Celtics 71

WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks took a 2-0 lead in their first-round series against the Celtics on Tuesday thanks to a star performance from Carmelo Anthony and another subpar night for the Celtics' offense.

Anthony had 34 points, including 13 in a pivotal third-quarter run, to help the Knicks to an 87-71 Game 2 win over Boston. Anthony had a game-high 36 in Game 1.

The Knicks' defense also had another tremendous second half, holding Boston to 23 points after halftime on 7-for-36 shooting. The Celtics had 25 points in the second half of Game 1 on 7-for-27 shooting. Paul Pierce struggled in the second half Tuesday, finishing with 18 points on 8-for-19 shooting. Kevin Garnett was in foul trouble all night and had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

The Knicks haven't led a playoff series 2-0 since 2000, which is also the last season they won a series.

THREE-FOR-ALL: After shooting 4-for-17 in the second and falling into a six-point hole at halftime, the Knicks stormed back in the third quarter.

Two 3-pointers from Iman Shumpert started a 20-4 run to start the third, in which New York took control. They were Shumpert's second and third baskets of the series.

Anthony drilled a 3 and then hit a turnaround jumper over Paul Pierce. He had 13 in the quarter on 5-for-6 shooting, and the Knicks led by 15 going into the fourth quarter.

The Knicks' defense helped hold Boston to just one field goal in the first 7:30 of the third. Overall, the Celtics shot 4-for-18 in the third quarter and it was clear that they lacked a ball handler to calm the storm.

The Celts cut it to nine with 9:15 to go with an 8-2 run to open the fourth, but Anthony had three big buckets in the next six minutes to expand the Knicks' lead.

SIXTH SENSE: J.R. Smith showed everyone on Tuesday why he was voted the NBA's Sixth Man.

He entered the game with 8:24 to go in the first to a huge ovation and proceeded to hit three fallaway contested jumpers.

At the end of the first quarter, he stepped in front of Pierce, forcing Pierce into a turnover.

He then received an inbounds pass from Jason Kidd, took a few dribbles and knocked down a 36-footer at the buzzer. Quite a sequence.

Smith finished with 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including an alley-oop from Raymond Felton midway through the fourth to put the Knicks up by 13.

Speaking of Felton, he had a fantastic floor game: 16 points, two assists and seven rebounds. The Knicks outscored the Celtics by 22 with Felton on the floor.

TYSON IMPROVES: Tyson Chandler woke up a bit in the third quarter. He scored his first points of the series on a layup and foul on Kevin Garnett (his fourth of the game). Chandler also had a block in the Knicks' monster third quarter. Still, Chandler didn't look like the same player who earned an All-Star bid in the regular season.

It's unclear if Chandler's issue is conditioning or a neck ailment. Chandler missed 16 of the Knicks' final 20 regular-season games due to a bulging disk in his neck. He had three points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Knicks are fortunate because Boston doesn't pose much of a threat as a rebounding team. And they're also lucky they have Kenyon Martin.

Martin helped out in the paint with 11 rebounds and four blocks.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will have two days to rest and practice before taking on the Celtics in Boston on Friday night.

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