Knicks Start Off New Season With Win Over Rival Celtics

Published on: 25th December, 2011

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Carmelo
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New York – In what could easily be seen as an opening salvo between long-time Eastern Conference rivals, the New York Knicks opened the NBA season by defeating the Boston Celtics at the partially renovated Madison Square Garden, 106-104.

The Knicks clearly had a chip on their collective shoulders, wanting to prove they can compete and win against a team that has owned them over the years. The Celtics had won eight games in a row over the Knicks, including four straight in last year’s opening round of the playoffs so this win, despite it being just the first game of the season, meant a lot to the Knicks players.  

“The energy today was out the roof,” said Amar’e Stoudemire. “I think the fans were ready for the season because of the long off-season and the new acquisitions and all the hype around us. Because it was the Celtics, we wanted to come out and set the tone early. This game was very important to us to get off to a great start.”

“We wanted to make a statement, not just to the Celtics but to ourselves in this first game,” said Landry Fields. “It was pretty intense out there, kind of like a playoff atmosphere.”

“Every time we play a great team like Boston, it is going to be competitive like that,” said Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks leading scorer with 37 points. “They want to win, we want to win. Last year is in the past. This is a new beginning for us. What better way to start it off than today.”

The importance of today’s game was also not lost on Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni.

“It is going to be a rivalry, now,” D’Antoni said in reference to the Celtics. “They are not going to back down and we are not going to back down. Whatever it is, it is going to be nice and it is going to be a great series with them because they are a very good team and well-coached. We want to get to their level and we think we can get there.”

The Knicks got off to a fast start in the early part of the game, getting out to an 11-point lead after the first quarter which they eventually increased to 17-points midway through the second. The Celtics put on a little run to cut the Knicks lead at the half to 10 points, 62-52. 

Despite playing without Paul Pierce (out with a bone bruise on his heel), the Celtics still have Hall of Fame-level talent in their lineup. In the third quarter, perennial All-Stars Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo lit up the scoreboard, each scoring 10 points in leading the Celts to a 35-17 advantage in the period, reversing their 10-point halftime deficit into an 87-79 advantage after three quarters.

Anthony also led the Knicks in rebounds with eight but it was his fourth quarter performance, in crunch time, that is typical of what sets apart the great players from everyone else.

Anthony took over the game in that final stanza, unleashing 17 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field, including hitting 2 of 2 clutch threes. It was just what the doctor ordered for the home team when they needed it most.

“Carmelo is a phenomenal offensive player,” said Stoudemire. “I played against him for many years in the Western Conference. Now that I am on his team, it is an honor because he is one of those guys where in the fourth quarter or the last few minutes in the game, he is able to get a shot off anytime and he has the focus to make it.”

“Early in the game, I just wanted to try to get guys going, just trying to get guys better, raise their confidence, and then seeing what is left over for me,” Anthony said. “I guess the fourth quarter what was left over for me, today.”

In fact, Anthony scored 17 of the Knicks 27 points in the final quarter, including eight of their last nine, pulling them from a six point deficit with 5:19 to go (98-92) to the eventual final score of 106-104.

The day wasn’t perfect, however, for the Knicks. Two of their players suffered injuries that will keep them out for awhile. The more serious injury of the two was a sprained MCL in Iman Shumpert’s left knee. The Knicks announced the rookie, who has played well enough to be an important part of D’Antoni’s rotation, will miss between two and four weeks. The other injury was suffered by Jared Jeffries, who was diagnosed with a sprained calf muscle. He is expected to miss between one and two weeks.

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