WHAT IT MEANS: There was no blood, there were no stitches, there was no fourth-quarter collapse, but the Knicks still lost, 87-85, on Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining. Even playing arguably their best complete quarter of the year in the second (more on this below) and holding the Celtics to 87 points, it came down to one shot and one shot only. Being that the Knicks are an offensive-minded team (106.5 points per game) and Mike D'Antoni has been criticized for his lack of defensive coaching, you have to be very pleased that they have the ability to get under the Celtics' skin, especially down low where they were outmatched in previous matchups (the Celtics only had 34 points in the paint compared to the Knicks' 32). All they need now is a W to make that statement fully complete.
TURNING POINT: After shooting 64.7 percent, but more importantly checking the Cs to just 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the second quarter, as well as forcing them into six turnovers, the Knicks got a bit rattled defensively after halftime -- specifically with their transition defense. The Knicks have had problems all year balancing their energy act, looking great only in spurts, and the Celtics took advantage of the moments they let up. After being down 51-39 at halftime, the Celtics stormed back, led by Rajon Rondo's fastbreak playmaking and Jermaine O'Neal's inside scoring, and cut the deficit to five at the end of the third quarter, 64-59.
DIFFERENCE-MAKERS: The Celtics' starting five, all scoring in double figures, with Allen leading the way with 24 points (on the flip side, only the Knicks' Big Three scored more than 10 points). On the whiteboard in the Knicks' locker room before the game, D'Antoni had a note saying to watch out for Allen's roll-outs to the 3-point line. Well, it was his 9-of-15 shooting (3-of-5 from downtown) that punched the Knicks every time they were about to make a run. In fact, if it wasn't for Allen's accuracy, the Cs would've dug themselves a deeper hole. That's because his Big Three teammates were way off from the field (Rondo was 5-of-14, Paul Pierce was 6-of-16 and Kevin Garnett was 5-of-14). If the Knicks won, everyone would be talking about the man they call Standing Tall and Talented -- actually Mr. Fourth Quarter. Amare Stoudemire finished with a game-high 28 points -- 12 of them coming in the final period.
MELO'S KICKS: Melo was the only Knick tonight to rock a new playoff-edition sneaker. He broke out his first Knicks’ Player Edition model, a royal/black version of the Melo M7.
WHAT'S NEXT: Game 2 Tuesday night in Boston at 7 p.m. ET on TNT.
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