101 - 89 Final
  for this game

Spring cleaning: Celtics sweep Knicks

Apr 25, 2011 - 4:05 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Desperate for an emotional performance to avoid being swept by playoff-tested Boston, the Knicks instead showed up listless.

And when they finally found a spark, chipping away at a 23-point deficit in the second half, the rally was too little and came too late.

Kevin Garnett had 26 points, Rajon Rondo scored 21 with 12 assists and Boston knocked New York out of the playoffs with a 101-89 victory Sunday in Game 4 of their first-round series.

"We found a way to put it away," said Rondo. "It's a good feeling."

The Celtics moved on to face the winner of the Heat-76ers series in the second round, looking every bit like a team ready to make another championship run while extending the Knicks' decade-long winless streak in the playoffs.

Ray Allen added 14 points, Paul Pierce scored 13 and Boston shot nearly 50 percent from the field while holding the Knicks under 35 percent.

Much of that disparity came in the first half, when the Knicks shot under 24 percent and trailed by as many as 19 points.

"We just didn't get quite enough from a lot of people," said Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni.

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points to lead New York, but a lot of it came in an explosive first quarter when he scored 15. Amare Stoudemire, playing again despite back spasms, added 19 points and Anthony Carter scored seven of his 11 as the Knicks made a run in the fourth quarter.

Missing point guard Chauncey Billups (knee) for the third straight game, the Knicks gave a restless Madison Square Garden reason to cheer after nearly coming all the way back from a 23-point deficit in the third quarter.

They cut it to 82-72 entering the fourth, then down to six on Stoudemire's layup and Anthony's jumper. Later, Carter buried a long jumper inside the three-point arc to get the Knicks as close as four at 84-80.

But Pierce drove for a layup at the other end -- Boston's first field goal in more than seven minutes of game time -- and Rondo scored to make it an eight-point game.

Indeed, the Celtics had an answer for each New York salvo.

After Carter buried a three-pointer to get the Knicks within 88-83, Allen stepped into a wide-open three at the other end to get the points back.

Carter hit a jumper and New York was driving, looking to cut the deficit to four, when Pierce stepped in front of Shawne Williams to take a key charge. Rondo and Garnett scored to make it 95-85, and Garnett hit another jumper moments later for an 11-point lead with two minutes remaining.

"You give a team some confidence, even in a 3-0 series, and they win a game you never know what can happen," said Pierce. "So it was just really important for us to withstand their run."

The Knicks remained winless in the playoffs since 2001, when they lost a first-round series to Toronto in five games. They were also swept in their last postseason appearance against the Nets in 2004.

"Experience is something you can't manufacture," said D'Antoni. "A lot of [our guys] have never played meaningful minutes in the playoffs. And whether they played good or bad, this will help them."

Anthony was 5-of-9 in the first quarter, including 1-for-3 on three-pointers, but the Knicks shot under 30 percent and trailed 29-23 heading into the second.

Hoping for an historic series comeback -- no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win in the playoffs -- things got even worse.

Stifled by Boston's defense and showing little fight, the Knicks went 3-for-20 from the field in the second quarter and scored just five points in the first six-plus minutes.

The Celtics went ahead by as many as 19 on Jeff Green's three-point play to make it 54-35 in the final minute. They led 55-38 at halftime, shooting nearly 50 percent while holding the Knicks under 24 percent.

Game Notes

The Heat lead the Sixers, 3-1, with Game 5 scheduled for Wednesday...Boston swept a postseason series for the first time since taking three straight from Indiana in 1992.