Friday, March 27, 2015

Celtics 96 - Knicks 92: C's Stay in Playoff Picture

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New York - There is nothing like playing the Knickerbockers after a tough loss. Such was the case for this playoff push the Celtics currently see themselves in. If Wednesday night proved anything, it's that the C's needed a 'pick me up' and what better place to find it this season than Madison Square Garden right? Boston just so happened to take advantage of the struggling Knicks and escape with a 96-92 victory.

Isaiah Thomas made sure to come up big after a non convincing performance two nights ago (4 points in 20 minutes) to lead all Celtics scorers with 18 points and 6 assists off the bench. Jae Crowder also chipped in with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while the always consistent Brandon Bass added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Evan Turner contributed with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the win, that have the C's 32-40 on the season.

The Knicks on the other hand loss their 59th game of the year and have dropped the last 13 of their 15 games. Andrea Bargnani led New York with a season-high 25 points and 7 rebounds. Shane Larkin finished with 14 points and 6 assists and rookie Langston Galloway added 12 points and 6 assists.

The Celtics began the second quarter on a 20-6 run and were up 47-39 at halftime. It seemed like the C's stop playing defense once the third quarter started, just four minutes into the second half and the Knicks pulled within one 51-50. Boston never gave up their lead despite being outscored 24-23 to begin the fourth.

In the final frame the Celtics led by as many as 11 points before a Galloway 3-ball cut the deficit to four 92-88 with 25 seconds left. Jason Smith hit another 3-pointer to get the Knicks within three 95-92 with just over a second remaining. Avery Bradley (10 points) hit a clutch free-throw to ice the game for the C's and a 3-1 season series win over New York.

"This was a hard game," said Brad Stevens. "I knew it was going to be a hard game. We all knew it was going to be a hard game. I'm happy that we won. I thought we made a few too many mistakes late that we need to clean up."

It almost got away from the Celtics there against the worst team in the league, but once again the bench saved the day for coach Stevens. With only 10-games remaining, it will not be easy as every opponent (with the Pistons being the only exception) has something to play for. As it stands right now the C's are only a half a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets (31-40) and six out of the 10 games left are at the TD Garden.

Next test for these young Celts is old friend Doc Rivers and the L.A. Clippers on Sunday night at home. Tip-off is at 6:00 EST

Game Notes:

The C's who had trouble as of late from the free-throw line not only made it to the charity stripe 43 times to the Knicks' 14, but made 34 freebies (79-percent). Boston only shot 42 percent (26-of-69) from the field, including hitting 4-of-20 from down town to New York's 44-percent (38-of-87) of their overall shots.

Joel Pavón
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