NEW YORK (AP) -- If these are Isiah Thomas' last days on the
Knicks' bench, he needs one more win to avoid joining the losingest
coaches in team history.
Even with their three All-Stars resting, the Boston Celtics beat
New York 99-93 on Monday night in what may have been Thomas' final
home game as Knicks coach.
The Knicks fell to 23-58 and need to win their season finale at
Indiana to avoid tying the franchise record for losses, last
matched two years ago during Larry Brown's lone season. Sometime
after that game, Thomas will be told -- if he hasn't already been --
if he will return next season.
"There are certain times when you live in uncertainty and
you're not comfortable with it, but you have to learn to settle and
be patient and see what plays out," Thomas said. "And we all want
certainty in our life. However, in the uncertain times you have to
sit with it and in sports there are a lot of uncertain times."
Donnie Walsh, who replaced Thomas as team president earlier this
month, has said Thomas will finish the season as coach before he
decides on next season. Walsh said he has no timetable, other than
wanting the situation settled before the draft, but realizes the
speculation involved means he probably needs to announce his
decision much sooner.
Thomas was booed during pregame introductions and fans chanted
for him to be fired in the final minute. But while firing Thomas
may be the popular decision with fans, Jamal Crawford cautioned
that it may not be the right one.
"You can't always do what's popular and what isn't popular,"
he said. "You just have to be patient. Last year keeping Doc
Rivers wasn't a popular decision, either."
Rivers gave Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen the night
off, but Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics,
who learned during the game they will face the Atlanta Hawks in the
first round of the playoffs.
Sam Cassell added 22 points for the Celtics, who got a halftime
pep talk from another champion who wears green: Masters winner
Trevor Immelman, who watched the game the day after collecting the
"He gave us a halftime speech and it obviously worked," Rivers
said. "It was great. Half the guys didn't know him, but most of
them did. But it was really cool. They gave him a nice standing
ovation, shook his hand. We wanted everyone to touch what a
champion felt like."
Rivers said before the game he wanted his Big Three to play just
one of the final two games and instead opted for the home finale
Wednesday against New Jersey.
Allen and Pierce watched the early action from the bench before
joining Garnett, who stayed in the locker room throughout. They
missed an impressive performance from their point guards.
Rondo made the first basket of the fourth quarter to wipe out
the Knicks' last lead, and later in the period converted a
difficult three-point play, knocking in a jumper while being hit in
the face by Renaldo Balkman to make it 84-79.
"I'm a pretty confident guy," Rondo said. "I'm not cocky, but
I have confidence in my game and I want the ball at the end of the
game, even though the Big Three will have the ball. But sometimes I
have it in the palm of my hands, so I have to be ready to take the
Cassell buried two 3-pointers in the final 3:41, the last
extending Boston's lead to 95-88 with 56 seconds to play. The
Celtics beat the Knicks for the sixth straight time, sweeping the
series for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Nate Robinson scored 26 points and David Lee had 12 points and
16 rebounds for the Knicks. Rookie Wilson Chandler, who had been
playing well lately, sprained his left knee in the third quarter.
X-rays were negative.
Garnett won his third Eastern Conference player of the week
award Monday, the most by a Celtics player in one season since
Larry Bird was honored four times in 1985-86. ... The Knicks gave
away free food and nonalcoholic beverages to thank fans for helping
them record 21 sellouts.
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