Boston: Carmelo Anthony’s ill feelings toward Kevin Garnett didn’t last long. His streak of 20-point games goes on.
In their first meeting since a verbal clash led to Anthony’s one-game suspension, New York’s All-Star forward scored 28 points and the Knicks ended an 11-game losing streak in Boston with an 89-86 victory over the Celtics on Thursday night.
“No grudges between me and KG. Whatever happened, happened,” Anthony said. “We spoke about it and it’s over.”
Did Garnett agree?
“Yeah,” he said simply, then stood and walked out of the losing locker room.
Anthony scored at least 20 points for the 27th straight game, third most in franchise history behind Richie Guerin’s 29 and Patrick Ewing’s 28.
“He responded exactly like he was supposed to,” Knicks centre Tyson Chandler said. “The best way to get back is by getting a victory, especially in a place where we haven’t won in a long time.”
Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his fourth triple-double of the season. Paul Pierce added 22 points. Garnett had only eight points but finished with a game-high 12 rebounds as Boston lost its fifth straight game.
There were 17 lead changes in the game but none in the fourth quarter.
“When you need buckets, when the game is tight, you can’t turn the ball over,” Pierce said. “That’s what we did down the stretch.”
The Celtics trailed 86-84 after Rondo hit two free throws with 2:58 to play. Then J.R. Smith sank his only 3-pointer after missing five and Rondo made a short jumper with 40 seconds remaining. But Boston turned the ball over on two of its last three possessions.
Anthony was booed frequently but he showed no sign of hostility toward Garnett. At one point, Anthony even extended his hand to a fallen Garnett and helped the Celtic to his feet.
“He fell. I helped him up,” Anthony said. “I don’t hold anything against a guy like that.”
The win came 17 days after they jawed at each other during Boston’s 102-96 victory in New York. After that game, Anthony walked toward the Celtics locker room before security personnel stepped in and sent him back toward the Knicks’ side.
Comcast SportsNet New England posted a video on its website showing Anthony waiting near Boston’s team bus after the game, with coach Mike Woodson and New York City police nearby.
The NBA suspended Anthony for the next game, an 81-76 loss at Indiana.
In the first half Thursday, Anthony was booed nearly every time he touched the ball and cheered when he was called for fouls as fans reacted to the last meeting between the star forwards. One of the biggest cheers came when Garnett blocked Anthony’s layup attempt with 3:15 left in the second quarter.
“I’m just trying to block everything out and do what I have to do to win the game,” Anthony said. “This whole night was satisfying. To win in this building was a long time coming.”
The Celtics took their last lead, 66-65, on a 3-pointer by Jeff Green with 2:22 left in the third quarter. Then Chandler put the Knicks ahead with a three-point play and they scored the last seven points of the period, taking a 72-66 lead.
“We gave them a 10-point lead (80-70),” Rondo said. “You’re fighting back the entire fourth quarter.”
The Knicks led 84-76 before the Celtics cut it to two on a basket by Garnett and two by Rondo. Amare Stoudemire’s tip made it 86-82 with 3:24 left and the Celtics never caught up, even after Jason Kidd missed a 3-pointer for the Knicks with 14 seconds remaining.
Boston’s last chance ended when Pierce lost the ball out of bounds as he was receiving a pass with 7.1 seconds left.
“The play was broken up and I tried to flash to the ball,” he said. “Really (I) didn’t get a good hand on it.”
The Knicks’ defence was solid most of the night.
“What we did defensively was great,” Stoudemire said. “Garnett didn’t score well. Paul didn’t really have a huge game scoring.”
But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was pleased with his team’s effort.
“They know with that effort you’re going to win most nights,” he said.
The Knicks led 50-48 at halftime but trailed 60-59 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Then they outscored the Celtics 13-6, with Anthony scoring six points.
The loss dropped the Celtics to 20-22.
“We’re two games under .500,” Pierce said. There’s “still a lot of season left so we believe we can climb back in this division race.”
For now, the Knicks (26-14) lead that by one game over Brooklyn.
“I expected more hostility from the crowd and it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Stoudemire said. “It’s a rivalry game and we want to go into the All-Star break with a nice division lead.”