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With his 27th career triple-double (20th on national television), Rajon Rondo tried to bring the Celtics back into Thursday’s contest with the Knicks, but his efforts weren’t enough as the Celtics dropped their fifth straight game, 89-86 . Rondo finished with 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds all while making 10-of-19 shots from the field, his his fourth triple-double this season.
Carmelo Anthony tallied 28 points and nine rebounds after a slow start and the New York Knicks came out victorious at the TD Garden.
The defining moment of the game came with about 1:30 left in the game when the Celtics turned the ball over and J.R. Smith made a huge three-pointer to push the lead to five at 89-84. Rondo came back with a jumper, but two costly turnovers in the final minute, one forced by Smith with seven seconds left in the game, handed the Knicks the game.
In the first half, both teams struggled to find a rhythm on the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. Anthony struggled with his shot and was not driving to the basket, but Paul Pierce came out firing and finished with 19 points at the half and 22 on the game.
After one quarter the Celtics held to 24-20 lead with great play from Pierce and Jeff Green. Green put together a great game with nine points and six rebounds off the bench. The halftime lead went to the Knicks at 50-48 thanks to some great shooting and poor Celtics’ defense.
The second half started off well as the Celtics started to defend better, but Anthony began to drive to the basket and was scoring at will. The lead was up to 80-70 before Rondo led the charge that cut the lead to two at 86-84.
The Celtics bench only combined for for 24 points and once again Jason Terry struggled with two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Kevin Garnett, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass combined for 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting in a combined 83 minutes. If the Celtics hope to be one of the playoff contenders late in the season, they absolutely need more production from their starters.
Other than that late three-point shot, Smith was a non-factor in this contest. He finished 3-of-16 from the field with nine points. Amar’e Stoudemire came off the bench with 15 points in only 20 minutes while making 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
The Celtics will have to regroup fast as they head to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Friday night.