|Playing above the rim, Celtics center Kendrick Perkins puts home 2 of his 24 points. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)|
NEW YORK - By the disappointment in coach Doc Rivers's voice and face, you would have thought the Celtics were thoroughly beaten yesterday. Actually, they hammered the Knicks, 109-93, at a sold-out Madison Square Garden. But since the Celtics let their mouths do as much talking as their game, Rivers was far from happy.
"That was all on us," said the coach. "I was disappointed in us today, I really was."
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 24 points, including 22 in the first half, and grabbed 8 rebounds. Forward Kevin Garnett had his 18th double-double of the season with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists, while guard Ray Allen added 17 points and 8 rebounds. All five Celtics starters scored in double figures. Boston shot 54.7 percent from the field and led by as many as 20 points.
The Celtics improved to an NBA-best 33-6 overall and 15-3 on the road.
"Guys have been playing with a lot of passion and emotion," Garnett said. "We have been playing good basketball, great basketball."
But their passion and emotion clashed with their good and great basketball against their heated Atlantic Division rivals.
The Celtics had three technicals, New York two. After continuous trash-talking and tangling between Paul Pierce and New York guard Quentin Richardson, both were ejected with 1:57 left in the third quarter. Pierce had 10 points and 7 assists while Richardson went scoreless.
The Knicks also expressed displeasure with Boston guard Eddie House, who had some words for their bench after nailing a 3-pointer to push his team ahead, 107-87, with 2:24 remaining. After hearing House, Garnett told him, "Just play. Just play." New York coach Isiah Thomas declined comment on what House said.
"I can't really repeat [it]," said House. "It was something colorful to myself."
Rivers said five Celtics - including Pierce, House, and Perkins - were talking too much, and added that his team has gotten away with trash-talking in previous games. He said such actions in a playoff game could cause them to lose.
"New York's playing extremely well right now and there's some frustration," Rivers said. "But we can't answer to it. We can't get in a moaning contest when you got a lead on the road.
"I told them to be quiet and play the game. So I was disappointed in us in that. It wasn't just Paul. It was five of us.
"All of us were running our mouths instead of just playing basketball. The scoreboard will talk all right. You don't have to run your mouths. I wasn't happy with that."
Pierce and Richardson began yapping at each other and getting physical in the third quarter. Veteran referee Joey Crawford slapped them both with technicals to try to calm their emotions with 3:07 remaining in the quarter.
But the trash-talking and physical play continued, and both were ejected after receiving second technicals a little over a minute later. Richardson continued to mouth off to Pierce as he left the court. Neither player spoke to reporters after the game.
"I don't know what was going on between Paul and Quentin," Allen said. "Obviously, they have a history. This is my first year with the team, so I am learning little nuances about him as well as my other teammates.
"We have to realize, for what we want to do, we can't get caught up in small things. We have to get better each individual night from the first quarter to the fourth quarter."
Knicks forward Zach Randolph, who had a team-high 24 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, said, "Sometimes it gets heated like that. Guys like to compete. This is basketball. It is an emotional game."
Four members of the New York Giants - Plaxico Burress, R.W. McQuarters, Steve Smith, and Aaron Ross - sat courtside during the game. Rivers also expressed disappointment in Pierce for slapping hands with the Giants prior to shooting free throws with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
"I didn't like any of it," Rivers said. "They needed to be congratulated. What they did [in the NFC Championship game] was terrific.
"In a middle of a game? I don't know. I didn't like our demeanor in the second half.
"I personally think the game is always a competition. Never a show. I thought we went to show instead of competition."