NEW YORK -- The Celtics started off slow, then played brilliantly and then ran out of gas at the end as Carmelo Anthony took over in the fourth quarter and the Knicks sealed a 106-104 season-opening win today at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony's two free throws with 16.3 seconds left were the winning points and the Celtics missed two chances to tie or win. Marquis Daniels missed a 3-pointer from the side and Kevin Garnett missed an open 16-footer at the buzzer.
Rajon Rondo was stellar for the Celtics, scoring 31 points, with 13 assists and 5 steals. But without Paul Pierce (bruised right heel), the Celtics lacked a closer at the end of the game. They scored justs 6 points in the final 5:16 and were scoreless in the final 1:16. Ray Allen scored 20 points, 17 in the second half, but forced a jumper in the final two minutes.
Anthony finished with 37 points and Amar'e Stoudemire added 21. The Celtics stopped Stoudemire in the second half but had no defensive answer for Anthony, who attempted 15 free throws.
Fourth quarter, 16.3, Knicks 106-104 Celtics get blocked twice on shots and Carmelo Anthony comes back to hit two free throws. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 58.9, Tied at 104 Carmelo Anthony hits a leaning jumper and Marquis Daniels responds with a layup off a Rajon Rondo pass. Knicks ball but just 6 seconds left on the shot clock.
Fourth quarter, 1:48, Tied at 102 The Knicks could have taken the lead by have missed two free throws in the last minute. This is when the Celtics need Paul Pierce but someone else is going to have to respond. Rajon Rondo has 31 points, one short of his career high.
Fourth quarter, 2:47, Celtics 102-100 This is turning into a great game with each team taking shots at the other. Carmelo Anthony has taken over for New York and briefly tied the game at 100 with a 3-pointer. Kevin Garnett countered with a 20 footer. Now Tyson Chandler is at the free throw line for two shots.
Fourth quarter, 5:59, Celtics 94-92 The Knicks have returned and are on a 6-0 run as Carmelo Anthony is piling up fouls on the Celtics and they have picked up two technical fouls arguing calls. Sasha Pavlovic has zero points, 1 rebound and 4 fouls in 15 minutes.
Fourth quarter, 8:33, Celtics 94-86 The Knicks have not cut into the Celtics' lead but Carmelo Anthony is hot and the Knicks are getting the ball to him every time against Marquis Daniels, who has four fouls. Anthony has 27. Rajon Rondo has 29.
End of third quarter, Celtics 85-77 A 35-17 quarter and the brilliance of Rajon Rondo has turned the game into the Celtics' favor. Rondo has 29 points while Brandon Bass has 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, finishing plays that Glen Davis couldn't. The Knicks' Iman Shumpert left the game with a leg injury after Chris Wilcox fell into him in a heap under the basket. The Knicks made 7 of 19 shots in the quarter.
Third quarter, 3:01, Celtics 77-73 The Celtics climbed back into this game with a stunning 22-2 run over a 7-minute period to take an 8-point lead. The Knicks have responded with 4 in a row. But the Celtics look like a completely different team in the third quarter. Ray Allen has 8 points in the quarter while Brandon Bass has been stellar in his debut.
Third quarter, 7:11, Tied at 69 The Celtics have awaken and are on a 14-2 run spearheaded by Rajon Rondo, who already has 26 points while Ray Allen has 7 in the quarter. Carmelo Anthony picked up his fourth foul with 8:10 left in the period.
Halftime, Knicks 62-52 The Celtics battled back in the second quarter to make this game respectable but they are getting killed on the hustle points and by the combo of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, who have 29 points. Rajon Rondo has 19 points for Boston, looking like an elite point guard. The rest of the Celtics are a step slow, including Ray Allen, who has 3 points.
Second quarter, 5:47, Knicks 49-38 The Celtics are showing some life after falling behind by 17 with a 6-0 run. The Celtics need to play defense and rebound. New York is beating the Celtics with its depth and hustle. The Celtics look tired. Rajon Rondo has 11 points and Kevin Garnet has 7.
Second quarter, 8:20, Knicks 45-29 New York is on a 9-0 run, all nine scored by Amar'e Stoudemire and Toney Douglas. The Knicks are pushing the ball and hitting the offensive boards while the Celtics are struggling to score. Let's see if the Celtics have a run before half.
End of first quarter, Knicks 34-23 A terrible defensive sequence for the Celtics, who allowed the Knicks to shoot 52 percent on 11 field goals. The Celtics are surviving at the free throw line with 15 attempts. The Celtics have 1 combined point from Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal and Sasha Pavlovic.
First quarter, 2:50, Knicks 24-16 Doc Rivers has to be really disappointed in his defense so far. They are letting the Knicks get easy shots and repeatedly to the rim. The Knicks are 8-for-14 shooting while the Celtics are 5 of 13. Four Knicks have 5 points apiece.
First quarter, 5:42, Knicks 19-12 Rajon Rondo is the lone Celtic to show up to MSG so far. He has 9 points and the rest of the club has 3 on 1 for 4 shooting. Harnett has taken 3 of those shots and Ray Allen 1. The Knicks have already hit three 3-pointers and have 5 apiece from Amar'e Stoudemire, Landry Fields and Toney Douglas.
First quarter, 10:00, Knicks 6-4 The Knicks are attacking the basket while the Celtics are using Rajon Rondo to penetrate and dish. Toney Douglas has a 3-pointer for New York.