Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett weren't going down without a fight. The Boston Celtics survived in overtime to beat the New York Knicks, 97-90, on Sunday despite blowing a 20-point lead. The win at TD Garden forced a Game 5 in New York.
Jason Terry scored the final nine points in the last 1:30 of overtime to give the Celtics the needed separation, and Carmelo Anthony missed a decent three-point look before Boston closed the game by making its free throws.
Anthony scored 36 points but went 10-for-35 from the floor while scoring 16 points from the charity stripe.
The Celtics were led by Pierce's 29 points, six assists and eight rebounds, Jeff Green's 26 points and Garnett's 17 rebounds and clutch buckets.
Pierce scored 17 points in the first half and Green found opportunities in transition by pushing the ball up the court himself and attacking the basket. Green had 15 points at halftime, where Boston led, 54-35. At that point, the Celtics simply battered the Knicks by shooting 51.3 percent and holding New York to 28.9 percent.
Outside of Anthony, offense was scarce in the first half. Things changed once Felton started looking for his shot, and Iman Shumpert also contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds on the day.
The Celtics led, 59-39, early in the third quarter, but the complexion of the game changed when the Boston frontline of Garnett, Green and Brandon Bass each picked up their fourth fouls in the first five minutes of the second half. An 8-0 Knicks run ensued, but the Knicks weren't done. Their total run of 26-9 was capped by a Raymond Felton three-pointer before the end of the period to head to the fourth trailing Boston, 68-65.
New York tied the game at 74 apiece with seven minutes to play and again at 82 with four minutes left, but didn't take a lead until Felton hit a jumper with 1:17 to play in regulation.
For Boston, Green, Garnett and Pierce did their duty. Garnett didn't force much, instead focusing his efforts on rebounding and playmaking out of the post, but on his sixth attempt he hit a game-tying jumper 10 seconds after Felton's go-ahead shot. That was enough to force overtime, and Terry took over from there as Boston earned an extended postseason.
Keys to the game
Will the Celtics break 80?: Boston founds its offense on Sunday in the first half, but once the Knicks hit them in the mouth in the third quarter, it sputtered. Still, the Celtics found enough to score 84 in regulation.
How will the Knicks play without J.R. Smith?: New York struggled mightily in the first half with only Anthony as an offensive option. He scored 16 but shot 3-for-15 to go with five turnovers. Felton shined in the third quarter by scoring 16 points as the Knicks got back into the game without the help of Anthony, for the most part. Felton added 27 to complement Anthony, but after Shumpert's 12 points, there wasn't much.
Is this it for the Boston Big Two?: Not yet. Both Garnett and Pierce played to their strengths and fought their way to a Game 5.