There was a retread show on Broadway last night as the Celtics fell to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in Game 2 in largely the same fashion in which they fell in Game 1.
Despite the C’s once again leading at halftime, the Knicks owned the second half, particularly a third quarter which saw New York outscore Boston 32-11. This paved the way to a convincing 87-71 victory for the Knicks, who will look to go up 3-0 in the quarterfinal series Friday at TD Garden.
Carmelo Anthony continued to be efficient from the floor, hitting 11 of his 24 field goal attempts, as he finished with a game-high 34 points. JR Smith was also impressive for the Knicks as he pumped in 19 points, which included a near-halfcourt buzzer-beater to close out the first quarter.
Kevin Garnett continued to look rusty for the Celtics and was seen holding his hip late in the game last night. The C’s big man finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in a foul-plagued 24 minutes. Paul Pierce led the Celtics offensively with 18 points.
The Celtics had great looks from the floor in the first half, going 55.9 percent from the floor, on the way to a 48-42 halftime lead. The C’s second quarter was particularly impressive as they outscored New York 28-16. Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford provided big help off the bench for Boston in the first frame, scoring nine and five points, respectively. But the duo combined for just five points the rest of the way.
The Knicks opened up a 14 point lead midway through the third quarter and had outscored the C’s 26-6 at one point. To add to the Celtics misery out of the half, Garnett sat down with four fouls early in the third.
New York had built up a 74-59 advantage by the end of the third quarter. A Paul Pierce 3-pointer and a Jordan Crawford pull-up cut the Knicks lead to nine with just under 10 minutes to play but New York quickly thwarted any reasonable attempt by the C’s to mount a comeback.
What they’ll be saying: The Celtics have lost four playoff series since Kevin Garnett came to Boston. None of those playoff series defeats featured the C’s going out with a whimper. If they cannot grab a win Friday night at home in Game 3, that trend will be extinct.
Of note, the Celtics were able to extend their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Heat last year after dropping the first two games of the series. They won three straight games in that series, including Game 5 on the road, before falling in seven to the eventual NBA champs.