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After blowing a 20-point third quarter lead, the Boston Celtics managed to hang on in overtime to beat the New York Knicks in Game 4 of their first round playoff series, 97-90. With the win, the Celtics sent the series back to New York for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Jason Terry finally showed up to help the Celtics avoid an embarrassing sweep, scoring the last nine points in overtime as part of an 18 point effort on 7-of-10 shooting. Paul Pierce had a team-high 29 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists, while Jeff Green added 26 points and Kevin Garnett pulled down 17 rebounds to go with 13 points.
Game 4 marked the first time in the series the Celtics surpassed 80 points.
Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 36 points for the Knicks, though it took him 35 field goal attempts to get there (he made 10). With J.R. Smith serving a one-game suspension for elbowing Terry in Game 3, Raymond Felton stepped up in his absence, sparking a third quarter run to bring the Knicks back from a 59-39 deficit three minutes into the second half.
After jumping out to a 54-35 halftime lead, the Celtics pushed their lead to 20 before Felton singlehandedly willed the Knicks back into the game. With the Knicks trailing 65-51 with under four minutes remaining, Felton led a 14-3 run to close out the quarter. He finished the third quarter with 16 points, including a deep bomb of a 3-pointer as the clock expired to cut the Celtics lead to 68-65 heading into the fourth.
Two minutes after Anthony tied the game with a driving layup with 3:33 left, Felton drained an 18-footer to put the Knicks up 84-82. Garnett responded with a long jumper of his own to tie the game again, but neither team could find the bucket over the final minute of regulation. Anthony had two chances to put the Knicks up in the final minute, and Pierce missed his patented long fadeaway from 23 feet to beat the buzzer.
In overtime, the two teams traded points to an 88-88 draw before Terry hit a 3-pointer with 1:31 left to put the Celtics ahead for good. Anthony drew the Knicks within one on the ensuing possession, but Terry answered right back with a mid-range jump shot from just outside the right side of the paint to extend the Celtics lead to three. Following a missed opportunity by Anthony to tie the game, Terry calmly sank two free throws. He then laid in a breakaway layup with six seconds left to close out the scoring after a a couple of desperation shots by the Knicks to get back in the game.
The Celtics will now try to take the next step in becoming the first NBA team to come back from a 3-0 deficit by winning Game 5 in New York Wednesday night.
They’ll likely rely heavily on a short rotation once again, as Pierce (50 minutes), Green (48), Terry (41), Avery Bradley (40), Garnett (37), and Brandon Bass (30) all had extended playing time. Little utilized Terrence Williams played the next most with a whopping 11 minutes of court time. This is especially true with Courtney Lee receiving a “DNP – Coach’s Decision” after Doc Rivers played him 15 minutes total in Games 2 and 3 (RPI, The Bulldog Backcourt).
Tipoff time is still to be announced.