Anthony dominates for injury-plagued Knicks

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Anthony dominates for injury-plagued Knicks

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With Chauncey Billups (left knee) out and Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms) joining him by halftime, the New York Knicks had no choice but to put the team on the broad shoulders of Carmelo Anthony.

That's good for the Celtics, right?

Not in the eyes of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"When I heard Stoudemire was out, I turned to (assistant coach) Lawrence Frank and said, 'Oh, jeez, they got us right where they want us now,' " Rivers recalled saying.

Minus two-thirds of their Big Three, the Knicks relied almost exclusively on Anthony to generate points.

He didn't disappoint as he finished with 42 points to go with 17 rebounds.

As good as Anthony played, the Celtics' depth ultimately proved to be too much as the C's escaped with a 96-93 win.

The Celtics did everything they could to limit him.

They double-teamed him. They would tilt a defender. They would blitz him as soon as he touched the ball, trying their best to get it out of his hands.

A number of defensive sets from the C's were seldom-used this year, which speaks volumes about the problems Anthony's game caused the Celtics.

So with the game so tight down the stretch, the Celtics began sending help defense almost as soon as the ball was in Anthony's hands.

"He was going to make the shot," was the explanation given by Rivers. "He was making everything else. So we had to do it and I thought we did a great job."

Trailing by a point, Anthony had the ball in his hands but opted to pass to Jared Jeffries who had the ball stolen from him by Kevin Garnett.

After the game, Anthony had no regrets about giving the ball up on that situation.

"For the last two minutes, they were double-teaming me every time I got the ball," Anthony said. "After the time-out, I knew 100 percent they was going to double team. As soon as I got it, I saw the double team coming, I made the right play. The right play was to to go Jared. I thought Jared was going to lay it up, he thought he had a pass underneath. That's here or there. I made the right play so I can live with that."

Without Billups and Stoudemire, it was clear that Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni would lean heavily on Anthony to carry the scoring load.

"I don't know if I had that exact conversation, but I think it was pretty obvious that we're going to him every time and he was going to play the whole second half," D'Antoni said.

Rivers was not surprised that Anthony would bounce back with a strong game after hearing from the media about how he struggled with his shot in Boston's 87-85 Game 1 win.

"Great players hear all that stuff," Rivers said. "All it does is gets them going and he (Anthony) was determined."

But as well as Anthony played, it appeared as though fatigue began to set in near the end of the game.

After Jared Jeffries turned the ball over with 4.1 seconds to play, the Knicks failed to foul until Delonte West was hacked with just 0.6 seconds on the clock.

"He (West) just got away," D'Antoni said. "Melo was going, 'I don't think I can get out there.' He was so tired at that point. It was tough."

The same could be said for Anthony's prolific night scoring the ball.

"Melo was in an unbelievable rhythm," Garnett said. "Some of the shots he made were just incredible."

As well as Anthony shot, the end result was a Celtics victory.

That, more than anything else, is what the C's take with them as they prepare for Games 3 and 4 in New York.

"We won the game. That's all we get out of this," Rivers said. "Great win. The playoffs. The whole key for you is to win games, and we did that."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."