At least one single-serving cereal box snuck through. While ushers and security at TD Garden were instructed to confiscate all Honey Nut Cheerios-related paraphernalia — from boxes to signs — one container did pop up on the Jumbotron during Thursday night’s Celtics-Knicks game.
But one box of cereal doesn’t make for a hostile crowd, which was what the Knicks expected given the words exchanged between Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony — including a widely reported off-color remark featuring the cereal and Anthony’s wife — during and after their game Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden.
Nor does it make for renewed hostilities between Garnett and Anthony, the latter of whom helped up Garnett after the Celtic fell in the third quarter.
“There’s no grudges between myself and KG,” said Anthony.
“Whatever happened, it happened. It’s over with. We spoke about that. It’s over with. I don’t hold grudges, anything like that. He fell, I helped him up.”
Anthony could afford to be generous with his words. His team, after all, notched an 89-86 win, with Anthony contributing 28 points and nine rebounds. It was the Knicks’ first win in Boston since 2006.
But it didn’t start well for the Knicks star. He scored 13 points in the first half, but made just 4 of 13 shots, as the Celtics continuously double-teamed him. In the second half, Anthony made 7 of 15, and one particularly notable pass.
That came out of yet another double team. Anthony found Jason Kidd, who in turn gave the ball to J.R. Smith. Smith made just 3 of 16 shots, but one was impeccably timed. He hit a 3-pointer to give the Knicks an 89-84 lead with 1:11 remaining.
“It was easy,” Anthony said. “You see the double team, swing, swing. It was just a matter of guys making shot, and J.R. made that big three for us.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was generally happy with the way his team defended Anthony, saying, “I mean, 11 for 28 for Carmelo. If you told me that before the game, I would’ve taken it.”
“I thought he responded well,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said of Anthony. “He took some tough shots, but you’ve got to stay in the moment. Melo just didn’t let things get to him.
“I thought Melo was solid from beginning to end, even though he didn’t shoot that well. He was still playing great in the moment.”
And while Anthony — and the rest of the Knicks — anticipated having to block out a difficult environment, he didn’t find that to be the case. Perhaps it was because of the cereal-related taunts intercepted by security.
“It was kind of quiet today, for the most part,” Anthony said. “I was expecting the boos, a real hostile environment tonight. But it was cool for the most part.”
He, too, was cool.
As teammate Tyson Chandler said, “He responded exactly like he was supposed to. The best way to get some give-back is by getting a big three, do it especially in a place where we haven’t won in a long time.”
Not that Anthony had to contend with as much as he expected. There was no difficulty with Garnett, not much from the crowd, either. As he said, the pregame hype was “overrated.”
“I think people just blew it up for no reason,” Anthony said. “They were kind of just waiting to see what was going to happen. But it’s sports. That’s what happens in sports.”
There were no tense moments, nothing to splash across the New York tabloids. Other than the fact, of course, that the Knicks came out with the win, helping their hold on the top spot in the Atlantic Division and serving the Celtics with their fifth straight loss.
“The whole night was kind of satisfying to me, just to win in this building,” Anthony said.
“It’s been a long time coming for a game like this, for a win here. I wasn’t looking forward to any one-on-one matchups with myself and Garnett. Just like any other game, if a big switches off on me, my thing is to go past him, try to make something happen.”