The New York Knicks were eight minutes away from a galvanizing upset over the Boston Celtics, a win that in the immediate could have squelched concerns about the heart of a team led by Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and in the long run struck fear into the hearts of a potential playoff foe. Alas, it was not meant to be, as the Celtics stormed back in the fourth quarter to blast the Knicks 96-86, preserving fears that the Knicks are, as a crowd of skeptical fans might say, "ov-er-ra-ted" and that there's little hope they'll be able to challenge one of the East's elite in the playoffs.
The Knicks were in a good position in the fourth. 'Melo had scored 17 points through three quarters, and Stoudemire had offered 16. Boston hadn't scored a three-pointer, and despite New York's poor defense, only Kevin Garnett had really blown up (with 18 points through three). With 7-1/2 minutes left, the Knicks led by nine at 82-73. Then it all came crashing down. 'Melo picked up his fifth foul, and Paul Pierce took advantage, scoring seven unanswered. Rajon Rondo lobbed an alley-oop to Garnett. Ray Allen put in a streaking lay-up. Garnett pushed his total to 24. And fin. The damage was done, as the Celtics led by four, and the Knicks managed just four more points the rest of the game.
There's a second side to that fatal 13-0 run, and it's full of bricked jumpers. During the run, the Knicks took and missed five shots. Four of them were jumpers. In the quarter New York shot just 4-16, and by my count 14 of the shots were jumpers. No team can survive taking Js all day against the Celtics, because they will contest and you will miss. Ask the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. Ask the Cavs in last year's Eastern Conference semifinals. You can't settle for a jumper every time down the court against Boston and expect to survive.