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Coming off a big win over the Eastern Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers on Easter, the Boston Celtics looked to keep its winning streak going on Tuesday night when they visited the New York Knicks. The Celtics carried a 3-0 season series edge heading into the matchup, but it’s hard to sleep on these Knicks. The Knicks love to run and score while playing no defense, so the Celtics had to not only keep up with them, they had to slow them down entirely.
Well in the end, the Celtics faltered and just couldn’t keep up as they struggled to get ahead all night and ended up falling to the Knicks 104-101. It’s a tough loss, especially after the team’s hard-fought battle just two nights earlier against Cleveland.
Two key factors played a role in the loss for the Celtics: free-throw shooting and turnovers. Boston shot 14-for-22 from the charity stripe while New York shot 20-for-25. The Celtics also had 18 turnovers while the Knicks only committed 12.
The loss hurts the Celtics’ chances of landing the No.3 spot in the East, as they remain a game behind Atlanta at 48-29 with only five games left for both teams. Although the Knicks will not be making the playoffs, the team still sports a record of 28-49, with a chance to better its 32-50 record from last year.
After Kevin Garnett got the Celtics off to a quick 4-0 lead, the Knicks came back and led for almost the entire first half. Midway through the game, New York led 53-52 with a lot of help coming from recently signed big man Earl Barron. Barron, who signed a 10-day contract over the weekend, poured in 13 points off of 6-of-8 shooting and pulled down eight boards in the first half alone. He finished the game with 17 points (8-for-13 shooting) with 18 rebounds and a steal.
Barron has been in the league a couple of years but has never made an impact like he did Tuesday night against the Celtics. He had almost as many rebounds by himself (18) than all five starters from the Celtics had (21). Hate to say it but that is impressive.
Also having a big game for the Knicks was Danilo Gallinari who finished with a game-high and career-high 31 points off 10-for-15 shooting. His 3-point shooting has always been his forte, but he struggled from downtown as he went 1-for-4 for the game. He made up for his poor deep shooting by going 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.
“Mr. Double-Double” David Lee also did his fair share of work, but had what would be considered a down-game compared to his standards. He had 13 points off 6-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
The Knicks bench was highlighted by Sergio Rodriguez, who came up with a couple big shots of his own and finished the game with 14 points (5-for-10 shooting and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc). Rookie Toney Douglas struggled to find his shot throughout the game (4-for-14 shooting) but managed to finish with 10 points and four assists.
For the Celtics, the team was led by Ray Allen with 17 points (6-of-9 shooting, 3-for-6 from 3-point). Also helping out were Kendrick Perkins and Garnett, who each finished with 14 points. Garnett added four rebounds and four assists while Perkins added eight rebounds and three assists.
Paul Pierce struggled throughout the entire game but managed to pull off 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. He shot 4-for-10 for the game and went 0-for-3 from downtown. Rajon Rondo had a quiet night, as he chipped in six points and six assists and actually did not have a steal the entire game. Rondo and Pierce’s struggles played a major impact on the rest of the team as there was no consistent run throughout the game. When both of those players have a poor game, the whole team struggles and that was pretty evident Tuesday night.
A key to staying in the game for Boston was contributions from the bench. Glen Davis had 12 points off 4-for-6 shooting while Michael Finley had eight points and went 2-for-3 from deep to keep the Celtics’ hopes alive. Although the bench played well, the team just couldn’t pull things together in time to fight off the pesky Knicks.
The Celtics will next travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors who have been somewhat of a disappointment this season. The Raptors are currently 38-39 and are coming off a hard-fought battle that resulted in a loss against the Cavs on Tuesday night. Boston is 3-0 against Toronto this season and will go for the season sweep on Wednesday night.