for this game

Celtics dominate fourth, end Knicks' tough week

Feb 7, 2009 - 5:27 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks stood toe-to-toe in a defensive battle with the Boston Celtics. Then, the fourth quarter broke out.

Ray Allen scored 11 of his 22 points in the final period as the Celtics handed the Knicks their third straight home loss against a powerhouse opponent, 110-100, on Friday.

"I told the coaches before the game, we just got to get to the fourth quarter somehow," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "If we can get them to the fourth quarter, we could spread the floor.

"As long as the score was one, two points, I felt good about that. I thought if we can get it down towards the end, get our shooters and spread the floor, we would be in good shape."

New York dropped games to the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, at Madison Square Garden.

"If we play the majority of the teams in the NBA, we go 2-1, maybe 3-0," Knicks forward David Lee said.

"There's a reason why those teams have lost eight, nine or 10 games this season. They're all very good on the road. We didn't play our best ball, but I thought we played the best of the three games tonight."

Paul Pierce scored 26 points for Boston, which was 14-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-6 from the arc, in the fourth. The defending champs won the period by a 38-24 margin to erase a four-point deficit.

Allen's fourth-quarter output came in succession, as his layup with 6:25 left gave the Celtics a 90-86 lead they would not relinquish. The All-Star fouled out with 3:02 remaining, allowing reserve Eddie House to finish the job down the stretch.

"I think we slowed down," Allen said of his team's more measured approach at the end. "Defensively, we got back in front of them and offensively we slowed down. We were able to pick their defense apart and we found shots that we wanted."

"I thought we did a pretty good job at the end of the game, making it simple," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said.

House scored eight points in the final four minutes, including two threes from the right corner as Boston bounced back from a 110-109 overtime loss to the rival Lakers on Thursday.

That emotional loss snapped the Celtics' 12-game losing streak and seemed to sap much of their energy, allowing the Knicks to stay in the game throughout.

"It was a great win for us," Rivers said. "Last night was so emotional."

New York defended well for three quarters and baited Boston into some chippy play, especially in the third, when Al Harrington drew a technical for a hard foul on Garnett. Rajon Rondo also picked up a technical at the end of the third, a period rife with complaints from both players and coaches.

The game took on some playoff-intensity in third thanks to Wilson Chandler, who threw down two highlight-reel dunks, including a hard slam over bulky Celtics center Kendrick Perkins.

But after all the gusto, New York held just a 76-72 advantage heading into the fourth, when Allen's personal shooting clinic left the Knicks on the ropes. The first nine points of his run gave Boston an 88-83 lead with 6:56 left.

Minutes later, New York was on its heels, setting up five straight points from House and a long two from Pierce to give Boston its largest lead to that point at 99-89 with 3:11 left.

"We're trying to learn how to finish games against the best teams in our league," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There are three of them and, before those three came in, we won seven of 10 or eight of 11, whatever it is. I think we're better and we'll see."

Harrington scored 17 points and David Lee had 18 and 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who will embark on a three-game road trip on the West Coast.

"They're the world champions and we're not," D'Antoni said of the Celtics. "We're trying to be really good. I thought for a long time we played really well. Our defense was good. I thought the energy was there.

"I've got nothing but good things to say about our guys."