NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds and the Boston Celtics stayed alive in the NBA playoffs, cutting the New York Knicks’ lead to 3-2 with a 92-86 victory Wednesday night.
The Celtics will host Game 6 on Friday night, needing two victories to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Brandon Bass added 17 points, steadying Boston as it shook off an 11-0 deficit and pulled away in the second half to stop the Knicks again from their first playoff series victory since 2000.
J.R. Smith, back from his one-game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry with the Knicks way ahead late in Game 3, missed his first 10 shots and finished 3 of 14 for 14 points.
Terry also scored 17 off the bench.
Jeff Green scored 18 points and Paul Pierce had 16 as the two franchise stalwarts extended this season — and perhaps their Celtics careers — at least one more game.
Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8 of 24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks, who blew a big lead in this game and now the series. They face an unwanted trip back to Boston instead of the rest this aging roster could surely use before the second round.
If they get there.
The Celtics were the first of the eight NBA teams that have come from 3-1 down, beating Philadelphia in 1968, and put themselves on the short list of teams that have erased a 2-0 deficit the next year in the NBA Finals.
So perhaps it would be fitting if they were the first to overcome 3-0.
“I think so. I mean, I think that would be wonderful, and someone’s going to do it and I want it to be us, obviously, since that’s the situation we’re in,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “Someone will do it, and I really want to be a part of that.”
He’s still got a chance.
The Knicks limited the Celtics to 75 points per game while winning the first three, and nearly came back to win Game 4 on Sunday even without Smith. So they felt good even after missing their first chance to wrap it up.
Though few of these players were here for the streak, the Knicks were perhaps a bit overconfident leading into the game for a franchise that before last year had lost an NBA-record eight straight postseason games.
Smith said Tuesday he’d have been playing golf instead of practicing had he played in Game 4, and players wore black to the game Wednesday as if they were heading to the Celtics’ “funeral.”
Forget the funeral. The Celtics are still very much alive.
Smith finally made a 3-pointer to end his drought, and then another cut what had been a 15-point Boston lead to 88-83 with 1:05 remaining. But Garnett made a jumper, then knocked down two free throws to clinch it.
The Knicks were just 5 of 22 from 3-point range, which looked worse until Smith hit three late ones.
The Sixth Man of the Year received a loud ovation when he went to check in during the first quarter, but heard a few boos by the third. They will likely be deafening on Friday, the kind usually reserved in Boston for a Lakers player.
By the time Anthony drove right into the middle of the lane for a dunk that made it 11-0, the Celtics already had three turnovers. But Bass made a pair of free throws and then a dunk to settle them down. He added five more points in the period as Boston climbed within 22-20 even though Pierce missed all six shots in a scoreless 12 minutes.
He made a 3-pointer shortly after returning from a break in the second, and another gave the Celtics their first lead at 34-33 with 5:46 remaining in the half. Then Garnett had two baskets in an 8-0 run that gave Boston a 42-37 advantage, and the Celtics walked off at halftime to mostly stunned silence within Madison Square Garden with a 45-39 lead.
The second halves had belonged to the Knicks in the series, but the Celtics remained steady in the third quarter, opening a 69-60 lead on Terry’s 3-pointer with 41 seconds left.
Notes: Knicks coach Mike Woodson said the team will try to get Amare Stoudemire some contact in practice to see if he will be ready to play in the next round. Woodson said Stoudemire, who is recovering from right knee surgery, is “looking pretty good right now.” … Jason Kidd was honored before the game after winning the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award on Tuesday. He is the first player to win it in back-to-back years and joins Grant Hill as the only player to win it multiple times. … Woodson, a former Detroit assistant, was a candidate for the Pistons job two years ago that is vacant again after Lawrence Frank was fired. The former Knicks draft pick ended up taking a job on Mike D’Antoni’s staff, became the head coach last spring and hasn’t looked back. “I’m happy where I am, man, this couldn’t have worked out any better for me as a coach,” he said. “I mean, to be able to come back where I started, so I don’t even look at those other jobs.”