Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Associated Press
BOSTON - The New York Knicks quieted the crowd and kept the Boston Celtics silent.
Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks shoots over Paul Pierce during New York’s 90-76 victory Friday night in Boston. The Knicks can complete a sweep of the first-round series on Sunday.
The Associated Press
Now, only the greatest collapse in NBA history would prevent them from reaching the second round again.
Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points and the Knicks moved to the brink of their first playoff series victory in 13 years, routing the Celtics 90-76 on Friday night in Game 3 of the first-round series.
Quickly taking the crowd out of it in the first NBA game here since the Boston Marathon bombings, the Knicks built a 16-point halftime lead and now are on the verge of taking out the Celtics.
Raymond Felton added 15 points and 10 assists for the Knicks, who haven't advanced in the playoffs since reaching the 2000 Eastern Conference finals. They will go for the sweep here Sunday afternoon.
They'll have to hope they have J.R. Smith, who inexplicably threw an elbow right into Jason Terry's face with 7:06 left and was thrown out of the game with a flagrant foul 2, an automatic ejection. The league office will review the play and can fine or suspend Smith.
Jeff Green scored 21 points for the Celtics, who will try to become the first NBA team to win a series after trailing 3-0. They own the most titles in league history, but their present looks extremely bleak.
Fans cheered the responders who helped after the marathon but booed the Celtics, who managed only 31 points in the first two quarters, getting their bad half out of the way early this time. They were held to 25 and 23 points after halftime while dropping the two games in New York.
Smith finished with 15 points for the Knicks, who are loaded with veterans who weren't fazed by the pregame atmosphere. Once the game started, they simply outplayed the Celtics.
"I didn't think we showed up not to play well," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought overall our effort was there, I thought we did lose our spirit early on."
Everything went perfectly for the Knicks until Smith, while holding the ball on offense with a huge lead, decided to throw his elbow right into Terry's face. Terry charged after him but was stopped by Rivers, while Knicks Coach Mike Woodson appeared to be lecturing Smith before the Sixth Man of the Year was sent off.
There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims, and that was the last time it was quiet for a while. First responders and other personnel were greeted with loud cheers as they were brought onto the floor during timeouts, and a tribute to the city's strength played on the overhead video board during a first-quarter stoppage.
But the Knicks' dominance wore down even the most spirited supporters.
Rivers said he was aware of some of his team's shortcomings, with the absence of Rajon Rondo leaving the Celtics without a point guard. But Rivers -- himself a former point guard -- couldn't have imagined his team would be this unable to get into an offense, finishing with 18 turnovers that led to 26 Knicks points.
He started Terry for forward Brandon Bass, trying to find a way to get another ball handler on the floor. But it couldn't fix the Celtics' shooting and didn't really help much with the ball handling, as Terry had his dribble taken right away from him on one third-quarter possession when Boston briefly looked ready to get back into it.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett missed layups on the same possession to start the game, and it was clear right from there this wasn't the Celtics' night -- or their series.
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