Knicks send message, close out series

Knicks send message, close out series
May 4, 2013, 12:15 am
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C E L T I C S  P L A Y O F F  P I C T U R E 
in Eastern Conference

BOSTON -- The New York Knicks learned the best way to send a message is by doing it with basketball, not with their clothing.

Following a Boston Celtics Game 5 win in which the Knicks arrived dressed in all black for a C's "funeral," they ditched the thematic threads and focused on the team name across their uniform. At the end of four quarters, they advanced to the second round for the first time since 2000 with a 88-80 win.

"It's a big relief for myself, for us as a team, for the organization to make that next step, which is getting out of the first round," said Carmelo Anthony. "It's something that I've been looking forward to since I came here to New York. It's something that the organization has been looking forward to. It's something the city of New York has been looking forward to, and we were able to accomplish that."

The Knicks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series before losing Game 4 at the TD Garden. Their attempt of a Celtics burial failed in Game 5, forcing them to return to a hostile arena to close out the matchup, 4-2.

They looked to be in control after three quarters with a 75-49 lead with 9:43 left to play. But the Celtics, who had struggled in the second half, went on a 20-0 run to cut the edge to 75-69, and as few as four points moments later. The 2012-13 Knicks were showing signs of "the old Knicks," the team that struggled with focus and an ability to close out series and big games.

In the end, they lived up to their second seed and closed out an eight-point victory and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"There was definitely a moment in their run -- myself and (Iman Shumpert) were both on the bench at the time -- that I was thinking, 'What are we doing, fellas?'" said Tyson Chandler. "It's such a great learning experience when you can get a win, it's a tough one when you get a loss. This would be a different conversation. We've got to grow from it and I'm glad it happened. I'm glad it happened in the first round and now we'll be able to get past it."

The Knicks were tested by a trio of championship winners who were not going to give up until they were taken out of the game. Throughout the entire night, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry led a veteran charge to attempt a comeback and push the series to a Game 7. That type of battle will help prepare the Knicks for the next round.

"Those guys over there, they're warriors," said Raymond Felton. "We knew they weren't gong to give up. They were going to go out with a fight. When they made that push, we just had to keep our composure and just rally their run and still try to close the game out."

The Knicks will be in the spotlight, not only at Madison Square Garden but around the NBA as fans and critics alike wait to see if this team is the real deal.

"I'm looking at the big picture and I'm only in this for one thing, and that's to try to win an NBA title," said head coach Mike Woodson. "We made a major step today, but we've got a long way to go."