They weren’t playing with fire, they were playing with a blowtorch.
The Celtics yet again found themselves abandoning defense and playing an offensive game with a New York Knicks team that will gladly shoot it out.
Danillo Gallinari had already joined the list of players to scorch the Celtics in the past five games, but his biggest shot was also his luckiest. Down 101-100 with under a minute left, pulled up with the toe of his sneaker just barely touching the 3-point line at the top of the key. It was well long but, the glass was kind to the Italian sharpshooter.
The shot banked in, and after Chris Duhon came up with a steal David Lee rolled in a layup that gave him 13 points. Rasheed Wallace fired a desperation three long after time had expired, and Boston fell 104-101.
The Celtics have allowed teams to crack the century mark in each of the past four games and six of their last eight games.
Gallinari (31 points) erupted for 19 points in the third quarter, abusing whoever stepped out to get a hand up on his jump shot. The Knicks knocked down 12 of their 24 third-quarter shots, at times luring the Celtics into fast-paced up-and-down exchanges.
Rivers was almost obligated to put Nate Robinson on the floor in his return to Madison Square Garden. Robinson sat every minute of the Celtics win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, but he was returning to the city where he spent four-plus seasons, won three dunk contests and became one of the most popular players on a struggling team openly building for this summer’s free agent class.
The Knicks, counting down the days until July first when free agency opens, were able to build and hang onto an early lead, first half lead on the strength of 13 first half points from Earl Barron. Despite a second quarter flurry where Ray Allen scored eight points, grinning as Chris Duhon chased him around the floor, they Knicks went into the break up 53-52 after Toney Douglas drew a foul on Allen and knocked down both free throws.
Rivers sent Robinson in 3:13 left in the first quarter, and the player brought in for his scoring did more distributing than anything else. He didn’t take a shot from the floor. He missed a technical free throw, but he dished out three assists as the Celtics spent the first half playing from behind. Robinson cashed in on a sequence early in the fourth quarter, however where he knocked down a 3-pointer and set up Glen Davis for a pick and pop jumper that cut the lead to 86-85.
Slightly funny seeing referee Derek Richardson do the happy feet when he called Perk for traveling.
4:19 Tie 98-98 Celtics: Kendrick Perkins gets called for steps under the basket, spoiling a Paul Pierce bounce pass. Chris Duhon then comes down and drives through the lane for the game-tying lay-up.
Ray Allen jumps off the bench and sprints to the scorer’s tape with under 5 minutes left.
Welcome Gallo (26 on 9 of 14) to the list of players who’ve torched the Celtics these past five games.
3:35 Knicks 80-71: New York starting to create some seperation late in the third. David Lee, relatively quiet for a guy two games removed from a triple double, drilled a 20 footer from straight away to open up a 9-point lead and force Doc Rivers to call a timeout to break up a 10-3 burst.
4:51 Knicks 74-68:Tony Allen comes in and immediately causes trouble, taking a handoff from Rajon Rondo, beelining for the rim and getting a fouled by Gallinaru. He hit one of two. Meanwhile, the Cs can’t stop Gallo, 22 points on 8 of 10 shooting.
TA yells out ‘Oh my god!’ after Pierce’s big flush. Not sure if was excitement or disbelief
7:27 Knicks 65-63: Gallinari drills a J after mixup with Kevin Garnett that got Mike D’Antoni fired up enough to get a technical.
8:13 Knicks 63-60: Toney Douglas probably thought he had himself a nice little reverse coming of a slick backdoor cut until Ray Allen snuffed it out.
10:32 Knicks 57-54: The Knicks have scored on all their second half possessions. Danilo Gallinari’s got 5 in the half.
Finishing an alley oop was so important, Bill Walker completely ignored the fact that Rajon Rondo was underneath him.
Charles Oakley, Ethan Hawke and Earl Monroe are all in the building.
1:54 Celtics 50-48: The Cs take the lead back with a couple of quick strikes. Ray Allen shook loose and drained a three from in front of the Cs bench, then Rajon Rondo made a touch pass to Kendrick Perkins who made a nice finish at the rim and got the foul.
Ray Allen’s actually grinning as Chris Duhon tries to chase him around.
6:37 Knicks 37-36: Bill Walker just got a tech for jawing with his former teammates. Ray Allen shot the free throw. The Knicks are still stiff-arming the Cs though. Boston hasn’t led since 4-2 with 9:05 in the first.
Rasheed Wallace was so open, he hesitates before taking a three. He swished it.
3:31 Knicks 18-15: Nate Robinson checks in along with Glen Davis. He gets a warn welcome.
4:32 Knicks 16-11:Kevin Garnett’s busy in the early going, scoring eight of Boston’s first 11, but the Knicks’ pickup team (Bill Walker excluded … actually David Lee and too) is too much right now.
8:29 Knicks 5-4: Guess who? Bill Walker for three.
Pregame: Doc says Nate Robinson will see action against former team.