The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics have a thing for playing close, physical games, and they certainly didn't buck that trend on Sunday afternoon. In front of a rowdy Boston crowd and a national television audience, the two teams traded big runs all game long and took an extra five minutes to solve a game that saw some big, big shots down the stretch. Ultimately, a legendary stat line from Rajon Rondo and some clutch makes from Paul Pierce got the Celtics into overtime and eventually earned them a 115-111 win.
The Knicks, as they always do, struggled to contain Rondo all day. Rondo struggled to score against New York's interior defense, but contributed in absolutely every other aspect of the game. His line of 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds was his league-leading fourth triple-double of the season and the first game with at least 17 in all three categories since Magic Johnson did it in 1989. Rondo was also part of the force that shut down New York's Jeremy Lin, who was silent and sloppy aside from an individual (and incredibly important) five-point run in the fourth quarter.
While Rondo had a hand in nearly every Boston play, it was Paul Pierce who made the big plays down the stretch and got Boston into overtime. New York came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth and turned to Carmelo Anthony for big shots. Anthony and Pierce traded baskets throughout the game's final two minutes, but Pierce drew last blood in regulation. After Steve Novak's free throws put the Knicks ahead three, Pierce drilled a fall-away three-pointer over Iman Shumpert to tie the game with five seconds left. Anthony failed to connect on the ensuing game-winning attempt.
The Knicks' effort, while inconsistent, was balanced. Anthony led the team with 25 points, but Amar'e Stoudemire chipped in a quiet 16 and Lin had 14 despite struggling. Novak and Shumpert each added in 14 off the bench. New York's real trouble was taking care of the ball. Lin and his backup, Baron Davis, each had six turnovers thanks to reckless, over-ambitious passing off the dribble. The team as a whole had 22 turnovers, including 14 in the first half, which was a big reason it failed to maintain its big lead in the second quarter.
Ultimately, it was another chapter in Boston's prolific recent history of beating New York with last-second heroics. Boston's win pushed the Celtics further ahead of New York in the standings. They now sit at 19-17 while the Knicks fell back below .500 to 18-19.