for this game

Perkins' career day leads Celtics past Knicks

Jan 22, 2008 - 12:51 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) - For the remainder of the season, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers would prefer if his players let the results on the scoreboard do the talking.

Kevin Garnett collected 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the Celtics held off a late comeback attempt by the New York Knicks and pulled away for an 109-93 victory on Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Kendrick Perkins scored 22 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and Ray Allen chipped in 17 for Boston, which has won three in a row after dropping three of four.

Rajon Rondo added 14 and Paul Pierce finished with 10 before ejected along with New York's Quentin Richardson late in the third quarter.

The two had been jawing at each throughout the game and, before being tossed, had been assessed a double technical with 3:07 remaining.

Zach Randolph had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 22 points for the Knicks, who had won four of their previous five games.

It was Pierce's ejection and his going over to shake hands with members of the NFC champion New York Giants, who were seated at courtside, that irritated Rivers the most. The Celtics were leading by 17 when Pierce was tossed.

"We got a lead and then we started pounding our chest and running our mouths," Rivers said. "We've got to be better than that. We've got to have better composure if we want to be a great team someday.

"Hopefully, that's a good lesson for us because they have pride. They're not going to back down. They're playing extremely hard right now and they wanted to win this game."

Garnett agreed with his coach.

"We just got to keep our composure and understand what it is," Garnett said. "At the end of day, it's basketball. It's not like we're on the street or nothing. We got a referee. If something happens, it's going to be broken up. It's basketball. Guys are playing with a lot of passion, a lot of emotion. This is a big game for them I'm sure."

The origin of Pierce and Richardson's ejections may go back to some comments made by Richardson before the last meeting between the teams.

The Celtics said they were motivated by those remarks after a nationally televised 104-59 rout on November 29 but neither Richardson or Pierce stuck around to address Monday's actions.

"I don't know what was going on between Paul and Quentin," Boston guard Ray Allen said. "Obviously, they have a history. This is my first year with the team, so I am learning little nuances about him as well as my other teammates. We have to realize for what we want to do, we can't get caught up in the small things."

New York downplayed the ejection and then attempted its final comeback.

"I just believe those two battled," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "They always compete. I don't anything of it. I don't think it goes to the next game. I think those two, if they were playing at the YMCA, would battle and compete against each other."

"Sometimes, it gets heated like that," Randolph added. "Guys like to compete."

The Knicks did not back down and cut their deficit to 82-70 through three after Nate Robinson turned Tony Allen's bad pass into a dunk.

They were within eight three times in the fourth but, after Garnett stole a pass from Randolph, the Celtics finally pulled away for good.

Rookie Glen Davis converted the steal into a layup, and Garnett hit a 12-footer and a eight-footer for a 96-82 lead with 5:49 remaining.

The Celtics continued to blow past the Knicks as reserve Eddie House capped the 16-4 run with a 3-pointer at the 2:24 mark.

Despite the late charge in the fourth, Rivers still remained disappointed in several members of the team besides Pierce.

"We have to be quiet and play the game," Rivers said. "I was disappointed in us, in that. It wasn't just Paul, it was five of us, all of us running our mouths instead of playing basketball.

"The scoreboard will talk. You don't need to run your mouths. I wasn't happy with that. That's happened a couple of times, we've gotten away with that. If that's a playoff game and one our best players gets thrown out of the game, we can lose the game."

Perkins, who entered the game averaging 6.8 points, tripled his scoring average in the first half as Boston took a 59-45 edge. He scored 15 and then had a reverse layup that triggered an 11-0 run that closed the first half.

Rondo scored five points during the spurt, including a buzzer-beating 21-footer from the right wing.

The productive halves by Perkins and Rondo came on a day in which Allen, Garnett and Pierce were a combined 6-of-19 from the floor in the opening 24 minutes. Boston's three stars finished 18-of-41 from the field.

Pierce and Garnett factored in Boston appearing to take complete control of things. After David Lee's free throws pulled New York within nine with 8:42 to play, Pierce and Garnett scored Boston's next nine points, opening up a 70-52 edge with 6:18 remaining.

The Knicks showed far more competitiveness than their first meeting with the Celtics. They countered Boston's late run in the first half by opening the second with a 7-2 spurt but, in the end, they could not overcome the Celtics' talent advantage.

"They have three guys that are used to taking big shots and stopping runs," New York guard Fred Jones said. "They have three of them, so when they are in that situation, they are able to handle it."

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