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Celtics rally in fourth quarter to beat Knicks

Mar 22, 2011 - 4:53 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Kevin Garnett scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, triggering Boston's furious fourth-quarter rally, as the Celtics rolled past a stunned New York, 96-86, at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks appeared to have the game in hand, leading by double digits for the better part of three quarters, only to be out-worked, out-hustled, and out-executed by Boston, which outscored New York by 16 points in the final period.

"We got stagnant offensively, a lot of tough shots with the clock running low," Stoudemire said about the fourth-quarter collapse.

Paul Pierce added 21 points and six boards, while Ray Allen tallied 15 points and Rajon Rondo compiled 13 points and 12 assists for the Celtics, who have won two straight and all three meetings with the Knicks this season.

"We didn't make one adjustment, we just played the way we are capable of playing with a sense of urgency, more physical," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said.

Boston improved to 50-19 with the win, keeping pace with Chicago atop the Eastern Conference. The Bulls held the same record after beating the Kings on Monday.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points, yet sat on the bench with a look of disbelief after a nine-point lead fizzled into a 10-point defeat over the game's final seven-plus minutes. Chauncey Billups added 21 points, while Amare Stoudemire totaled 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who have dropped three games in a row to fall to .500 (35-35).

The margin still stood in double figures late in the third period when Roger Mason Jr. connected on a corner trey for a 69-58 advantage. Boston scored the final five points of the quarter, capped by Glen Davis' lay-in at the buzzer for a 69-63 game.

Billups' four-point play with 7:26 to play gave New York an 82-73 lead, but then the Knicks went cold, committing turnovers and taking ill-advised shots in a nearly four-minute dry spell during which the nine-point lead crumbled into a four-point deficit.

Pierce made Boston's first and only three-pointer of the game to slice the deficit to four, then stepped inside the arc and drained another jumper. Garnett put home an easy two off a deft lob in the lane from Rondo to tie the game, and Allen's reverse layup, followed by another Garnett bucket, capped 13 successive points for the Eastern Conference power.

New York tied the game on a Billups jumper and two Anthony free throws, but didn't score again over the final three-plus minutes.

Rondo and Davis attacked the lane with little resistance, pushing the edge to four with back-to-back layups. A Stoudemire miss led to Pierce's wing jumper, and Allen released for an easy transition bucket off a wild airball shot by Toney Douglas, putting a finishing touch on Boston's comeback.

The Knicks held a tenuous 16-12 lead about halfway through the first period after a pair of free throws from Landry Fields, but Rondo gashed the Knicks defense for two quick layups to tie the score.

Stoudemire scored New York's final seven points of the period, and his three- point play gave the home team a 25-22 lead.

Ronny Turiaf's slam stretched the advantage to 32-22, putting an exclamation point on a 12-0 burst that spanned the first two quarters. The lead reached 15 points, 45-30, when Billups squared up and buried a trey. New York led 51-37 after 24 minutes of game action.

Game Notes

Turiaf scored 11 points, while Douglas managed just five, including an 0-for-4 showing from long range...Davis chipped in eight points and nine rebounds...Boston dominated the paint to the tune of 44-28...The Celtics made just 1-of-10 from long distance, while New York drained seven threes, four from Billups.