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New Celtic Marquis Daniels dropped his highest point total in a Green uniform by scoring 17, and Rajon Rondo took over in the first half to finish with 20 points and 7 assists. The two brilliant performances weren’t enough to offset the Knicks at the top of their game as the Celtics fell 108-103 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden
Mike D’Antoni better be thankful that the free-agent market was so saturated this summer. David Lee scored 19 points and added 16 boards, while Nate Robinson dropped 21 points and recorded five steals. It was unclear until about a week before training camp whether Lee and Robinson would be back with the Knicks this season on one-year deals, or whether they would sign long-term contracts elsewhere.
It wasn’t just Lee and Robinson who led the Knicks Tuesday. Al Harrington added 20, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with under two minutes left, and forward Danilo Gallinari pitched in 17 off the bench.
Daniels tied the game with two free throws with 1:40 left in regulation, but after Harrington’s three, the Celtics bench couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
The Celtics’ starting lineup rested most of the second half, and aren’t expected to play Wednesday night when the team finishes up their preseason schedule against the Cavs.
Daniels was truly the bright spot for the C’s in Tuesday’s game as he showed an ability to take over a game if need be. Daniels got to the rim three times in a row at one point in the second, with one of those times resulting in a three-point play.
Another thing I took away from this contest is that the Knicks are going to be a lot better than most people realize. A healthy Gallinari and a healthy and committed Al Harrington give D’Antoni two long versatile forwards that excel in his system, much like Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw did in Phoenix. Both are upgrades over Wilson Chandler and Larry Hughes, who were forced to play huge minutes last season due to injuries.
The Knicks not only showed an ability to quickly put up points, but surprisingly they showed a comittment two playing defense and forcing turnovers when they needed to. I’m not ready to declare the Knicks playoff bound, but the more I look over their roster, the more I think Toronto and Philadelphia may have to look over their shoulders in the coming season.