for this game

Knicks dig early hole, then get buried by Celtics

Mar 1, 2007 - 5:14 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- You would think a game against the team with the worst record in the league would bolster your playoff push.Not if you are the New York Knicks.The Knicks dug a 23-point hole, climbed back to take the leadand then watched Gerald Green, Al Jefferson and Paul Pierce endthe comeback and spark the Boston Celtics to a 102-94 victory.New York entered the game trailing New Jersey, Orlando and Miamiby two games for the final two postseason berths in the EasternConference.The Knicks also were without guard Jamal Crawford, who is outwith a stress fracture in his right ankle and is expected tomiss the rest of the season. Missing Crawford and any sparkwhatsoever, New York fell behind, 57-37, at the half beforewaking up.Quentin Richardson scored 14 points in the third quarter as theKnicks got back in the game by outscoring the Celtics, 36-20, topull within 77-73 heading into the fourth.Stephon Marbury gave New York its first lead, 81-79, with a3-pointer with 9:10 to play. Richardson scored 24 points andMarbury had 23, but they cooled off down the stretch while theCeltics started to heat back up."It was frustrating, we needed to win," Richardson said."Regardless of who we play and what their situation is, we justneed to get wins."Trailing, 88-87, Green scored seven quick points to give theCeltics a 94-88 lead with 3:01 remaining. Jefferson scored fourstraight to extend the lead to 98-90 with 77 seconds to go."My confidence has kind of been up," Green said. "I just triedto stay aggressive. This game was a game we needed to win as ateam. Winning this game was a confidence booster for us as ateam."The Knicks closed within 98-94 on a layup by Eddy Curry with 39seconds left and decided not to foul. Pierce milked the clockand hit a spinning fadeaway jumper over Marbury to push the leadback to six with 19 seconds remaining."I thought we would get back in the game," Knicks coach IsiahThomas said. "I told them at halftime that it would come downto the last five minutes but would it be mentally tough enoughto grind it out. We've been in this situation before andtonight we do a good enough job the last three, four minutes,just grinding and sticking with the things that we do."We just became a little bit unglued. It was a good effort."Curry then missed two free throws and Pierce drained two on theother end to close out the game.Jefferson scored 26 points and had nine rebounds. Pierce had 24and Green added 21 off the bench.Jefferson was 9-of-14 from the field and the Celtics shot 51percent (34-of-67) as a team but Jefferson, who scored ninepoints in the fourth quarter, credited defense for the win."It's all about our defense. (Coach) Doc (Rivers) has beensaying it since day one of training camp. It's all aboutdefense," Jefferson said. "You can score all day but if youcan't stop them from scoring, we're just gong back and forth.We know we have guys who can score but we needed big stops andthat was the difference in the game."

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