Knicks rout Celtics, take 2-0 series lead

Knicks rout Celtics, take 2-0 series lead
April 23, 2013, 10:30 pm

NEW YORK — The Boston Celtics have been a streaky team all season.

Sadly, it appears to be holding true in the playoffs as the Celtics suffered similar struggles in Game 2 as they did in Game 1 against the New York Knicks.

And the end result on Tuesday - just as it was in Game 1 against the Knicks - is a Celtics loss as Boston returns home going 0-for-New York after a 87-71 Game 2 loss.

And while the C's tried to downplay Game 2 as a must-win, the question doesn't even need to be asked if Game 3 falls under that category.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and the C's have shown no signs of being up to such a challenge.

Getting just one win in this series looks like a daunting task for the Celtics at this point.

Boston had yet another rough third quarter, but they seemed to regroup themselves when they finally found a matchup that they could exploit - Jordan Crawford defended by Steve Novak.

The C's opened the fourth with an 8-2 run, Crawford scoring five points during that stretch to bring the C's within 76-67 with 9:15 to play.

Boston could not inch any closer, as the Knicks pulled away for a comfortable win and with it, absolute control of this series as it shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

The Celtics' downfall in Game 2 - as was the case in Game 1 - began in the third quarter.

A pair of 3-pointers by Iman Shumpert wiped out Boston's halftime lead, and a driving lay-up by Raymond Felton gave the Knicks a 52-50 lead that just continued to grow as the game progressed.

Doc Rivers called a time-out with 8:49 to play in the quarter, but it didn't matter.

The Knicks continued to surge ahead while the Celtics continued to sputter along to yet another pitiful playoff game offensively.

New York  closed out the third with a 24-9 run to take a commanding 74-59 lead going into the fourth quarter, the kind of deficit few outside the Celtics huddle felt could be made up in 12 minutes.

Not on a night when Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith went into the half shooting a combined 50 percent from the field to go with a combined 45 of New York's 74 points.

New York's controlling finish was in stark contrast to the game's early moments.

Both teams waged a tightly contested contest in the first quarter, although the Celtics found themselves without Kevin Garnett early than usual when he picked up his second personal foul less than four minutes into the game.

The Celtics still managed to keep the game close, and lead 17-15 following a lay-up by Paul Pierce.

However, the Knicks closed out the first with an 11-3 run capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by J.R. Smith from 36-feet away that lifted New York to a 26-20 lead.

The second quarter saw the emergence of Boston's Jason Terry who came off the worst playoff game in his NBA career in Game 1 when he failed to make any of the five shots he took from the field.

He nailed a 3-pointer in the first quarter and drilled another two in the second with the last one giving the Celtics a 36-30 lead - their largest of the game at that point.

Boston's lead peaked at nine points in the second quarter which ended with the Celtics leading 48-42 at the half.

Anthony and Smith continued to give the Celtics defense fits as they tallied 15 and 13 points, respectively, in the first half.

But the Celtics managed to keep the rest of the Knicks shooters from being factors.

Anthony and Smith were a combined 8-for-20 shooting in the first half.

The rest of the Knicks were a combined 6-for-17.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were getting it done with a balanced scoring attack led by Paul Pierce's 10 points.

In addition to Pierce, Boston's starters each had at least four points. And the C's bench, which had just four points in their Game 1 loss, had 14 points at the half with Terry and Jordan Crawford having nine and five points, respectively.

And the C's used both 6-10 big men Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph off the bench in the first half, a change in thinking after no one taller than 6-5 came off the C's bench in Game 1.

Still, the Celtics could not have felt too good about having a six-point lead at the half despite limiting the Knicks to less than 38 percent shooting, holding a +2 advantage on the boards along with having fewer turnovers (six to eight) than the Knicks.

Keeping New York in the game was second-chance points, a category in which they had a 9-3 advantage at the half.