Rapid Reaction: Knicks 88, Celtics 80

WHAT IT MEANS: Say this much for the Knicks: They sure know how to make things interesting.

New York nearly squandered a 26-point fourth-quarter lead but righted the ship with three minutes to play to secure an 88-80 win in Game 6.

With the victory, the Knicks earned a 4-2 series win. It was their first playoff series win since 2000.

The series win took a little longer than expected.

The Knicks won the first three games of the series, but Boston stormed back to win two and force a Game 6. They are among 12 teams in NBA history to force a Game 6 after trailing 3-0. Only three teams have forced a Game 7.

They nearly forced the seventh game on Friday night, cutting the Knicks' 75-49 lead with 9:30 to play to six points with 2:04 to go, but Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer with 1:43 to play to put the Knicks up 84-75. The make ended a streak of 19 straight 3-point misses for Anthony.

He then knocked away a Paul Pierce shot, which led to a J.R. Smith layup that put the Knicks up by 11. Smith hit the subsequent free throw to put the game away.

The Knicks will play the Pacers in the second round.

BALANCED EFFORT: The Knicks had five scorers in double figures, led by Anthony's 21 points.

Smith had 13, Iman Shumpert had 17. Ray Felton had 11 and Pablo Prigioni poured in 14. Prigioni hit three big 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Knicks jump out to a 24-10 lead.

Shumpert knocked down three of his own, including two in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks build their 26-point edge.

He also had a layup and a steal to snap the Celts' 20-0 run in the fourth quarter.

D-FENCE: The Knicks built their large fourth-quarter lead on the strength of their defense. They held Boston to 47 points through three quarters. The Celtics shot 38 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc. Pierce struggled all night. He missed 14 of 18 shots and went 1-for-9 from 3-point land. He finished with 14 points.

Jeff Green led the Celtics with 21 points. Kevin Garnett had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will take on the Pacers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, starting Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

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