BOSTON — It looks like those obits on the Celtics season will have to wait at least another game. The C's pulled out a 97-90 overtime win after nearly blowing a 20-point lead in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series with the New York Knicks.
The Knicks lead the series 3-1 with a shot at closing it out in front of their fans on Wednesday.
Jason Terry, who has taken his share of criticism for talking a big game and not delivering, had nine of his 18 points off the bench in overtime to keep the C's season alive for another game.
After the Celtics took a 19-point lead into the half -- the largest by either team in this series at the half -- the Knicks went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter and closed out the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Raymond Felton that cut Boston's lead after three quarters to 68-65.
Part of New York's improved play in the third had to do with three of the C's key players in Game 4 -- Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass -- each being in foul trouble. Bass eventually fouled out while Garnett and Green each had five personal fouls.
With no J.R. Smith for New York due to a one-game suspension for an elbow to Jason Terry's chin, Raymond Felton more than filled that void with 16 of his 27 points coming in the third quarter.
As the stunned Celtics faithful watched Felton's last shot of the third go down, the Knicks contingent in the stands were a vocal, jubilant bunch who sensed the end of the Celtics' postseason was drawing near while their own playoff journey was just beginning.
New York continued to chip away at Boston's lead and tied the game at 74 when Iman Shumpert stripped Paul Pierce and drove in for an uncontested lay-up with about seven minutes to play. Boston scored the game's next four points to go back up by four points.
For defending Carmelo Anthony was of a bigger concern than scoring themselves. Bass, who spent much of the game defending Anthony, picked up his fifth personal foul at the 5:10 mark of the third quarter. He went to the bench and returned in the fourth, but wasn't nearly as aggressive and Anthony took advantage of that with a slew of driving lay-ups and dunks.
After a New York defensive stop, it was Felton once again delivering, this time a go-ahead 18-footer with 1:18 to play that put the Knicks in front 84-82.
The down-to-the-wire ending was striking when you compare it to how the game began. The Celtics didn't waste much time taking control of the game as they opened with a 12-5 run and took a 22-17 lead into the second quarter.
But the C's know all too well that first quarter success means nothing, especially in this series. Of the four games, Boston has led after the first in all but one of them.
The second quarter struggles the C's have experienced in the first two games, however, did not show up today. That was thanks in part to the absence of Smith and the Knicks committing an unusually high number of turnovers.
Smith's absence put a number of New York players in unfamiliar roles, and for the most part they did not deliver. Those different roles, in turn, led to a significantly high number of turnovers.
New York averaged 11.7 turnovers per game in the first three games of the series. They coughed it up 13 times by halftime, resulting in 10 points for the Celtics. For the game, the Knicks turned it over 16 times.
Boston also benefited heavily from an amazingly strong defensive effort by Bass who spent the bulk of the first half defending Anthony. Bass' ability to keep Anthony in front while being strong enough to withstand Anthony's ability to score with his back to the basket led to a frustrating first half for the league's top scorer.
Anthony found his stride in the second half, finishing with a game-high 36 points to go with seven rebounds.