New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics: Postgame Grades and Analysis
Their effort sent the spiraling Celtics to their fifth straight loss, while the Knicks increased their Atlantic Division lead over the third-place Celtics to seven games.
New York took a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Rajon Rondo tossed Boston on his back and brought the team back to within two. Then New York's defense came up with two enormous stops to halt the comeback bid.
Carmelo Anthony showed little to no emotion as it related to Kevin Garnett and their prior incident on his way to a game-high 28 points. Amar'e Stoudemire hopped off the bench to supply 15 points and nine rebounds.
Rondo finished with yet another triple-double, with 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but it went for naught in the loss. Paul Pierce tallied 22 points as well.
The win moves New York to 26-14, and they are just 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the East's No. 1 seed. Boston's loss continues their struggles, as they are now just 20-22, clinging tight to the No. 8 seed.
Let's hit the Bleacher Report classroom and see how everyone graded out in the Knicks' tight win.
Rajon Rondo, BOS, PG: A
This was the 27th triple-double of Rajon Rondo's career, and his fourth of the season. Though he played well throughout, the fourth quarter wound up being his greatest stage. He had 10 points in the final frame and willed his team back into the game from a 10-point deficit. He hit jumpshots and free throws in crunch time, proving a lot in the process.
Rondo had to come into this one licking his chops, with Jason Kidd opposite him. He missed the first game against New York due to a suspension, but made the most of this opportunity.
Unfortunately, two turnovers late in the game spoiled his great performance.
Jason Kidd, NYK, PG: C+
Jason Kidd is as steadying an influence at a point guard as you will find in the NBA.
However, with Raymond Felton out injured, the Knicks really miss the boom part of his boom-or-bust game. Kidd stood very little chance of having a big game against Rondo and Avery Bradley. The best he could do was be steady, and that is exactly what he did in this satisfactory performance.
Kidd finished with 12 points, but missed 5-of-7 threes and led some particularly poor possessions late in the fourth quarter.
Jason Kidd is good for the Knicks, but as the starting point guard, I'm not sure he is good enough. New York continues to miss Felton more than they ever thought they would.
Iman Shumpert, NYK, SG: B-
In just his third game of the season, Iman Shumpert is still working up his minutes.
Against the C's, he submitted easily his finest performance thus far. Shumpert went for 10 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes, which is a good sign for the rest of the season.
Shumpert's defense clearly isn't back to where it was for parts of last season, as he was unable to help against Rajon Rondo's fourth-quarter dominance. However, he stuck with him twice late in the game, helping to cause two huge turnovers.
Avery Bradley, BOS, SG: C+
The treat of the night was getting to watch the sideshow that was the Avery Bradley and Iman Shumpert matchup. Both players are growing into elite defenders, but have both had their bouts with injury.
Bradley's offense has been few and far between since his return, and Thursday night was no different. Rondo's running mate scored only five points on 2-of-7 shooting. He is usually charged with hitting a couple corner threes, but was just 1-of-4 from behind the line.
His defense was still superb and he bothered J.R. Smith into a putrid game. Smith's big three at the end was not with Bradley on him.
Paul Pierce, BOS, SF: C+
Paul Pierce was electric in the first half, entering the break with 19 points and getting seven attempts from the line. He then submitted three points after the intermission. That was when Carmelo Anthony started heating up, making Pierce's disappearance all the more difficult.
Pierce visibly passed up open shots in the fourth quarter, opting to give Avery Bradley a tough three instead of taking an open jumper on one occasion. That is not a good look for Pierce, who needs to score in games like these. Twenty-two points looks good enough, but that was an awful second half.
Pierce's most egregious errors came on Boston's final two possessions. He committed back-to-back turnovers while 40 feet from the basket. Both were wholly unforced errors and cost the Celtics a chance to finish off the comeback.
James White, NYK, SF: C-
Earning his fifth start of the season, James White didn't see a whole lot of meaningful minutes.
White was on the court for only 13 minutes, but was active for his time. He finished with four points, three rebounds and a pair of assists—pretty respectable production given the playing time.
Posting a minus-seven in just 13 minutes is not good though, and this isn't going to be a regular spot for White.
Carmelo Anthony, NYK, PF: B+
Overall, Carmelo Anthony didn't play all that good of a game. Unlike Paul Pierce, though, he hit shots when it mattered.
Despite a 1-of-11 stretch in the middle of the game, Anthony came away with 28 points. It took 28 shots to get there, meaning outside of that poor run, he was 10-of-17.
He went through stretches where he was completely unstoppable in the second half, torching Jeff Green late in the third quarter and into the fourth.
Anthony added nine rebounds and was the only New York Knicks starter to finish with a positive plus/minus, at plus-three.
Brandon Bass, BOS, PF: F
Three shots is all Brandon Bass came away with in his 20 minutes of action.
It was a weak showing for the Boston Celtics power forward. Bass doesn't do much to resemble that adjective, "power." He finished with four points and two rebounds in a thoroughly uninspiring effort.
Bass continues to be the Celtics' space-holder in the starting lineup, as Doc Rivers refuses to promote Jared Sullinger.
Kevin Garnett, BOS, C: C
There were no fireworks in the follow-up to Jan. 7's eventful competition between K.G.and 'Melo. Instead, Garnett dealt with Tyson Chandler almost exclusively.
The offense just wasn't clicking for the veteran big, as he finished with only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. He did grab 12 rebounds, helping the Boston Celtics stay within three boards of the New York Knicks (49-46).
Garnett didn't take charge late at all on the offensive side. Him getting more shots late in close games would be a wise thing for the Celtics to look for.
Tyson Chandler, NYK, C: C
Chandler did not attempt a shot, field goal or free throw until the 2:30 mark of the third quarter.
Yet, he still had a fairly big impact on this game. After his drought, he finished with five points and eight rebounds, along with a pair of blocked shots.
Chandler kept the Celtics, and especially Garnett, quiet for long stretches. He also allowed Anthony to play off Garnett. Chandler is a very mentally strong player and he was able to take whatever Garnett was dishing out Thursday night.
J.R. Smith, NYK, SG: C+
J.R. Smith was awful for nearly the entire game. Nearly, is the key word.
It was Smith's three-pointer that wound up being the difference in the game. With 1:10 left, Smith bucketed a trey to give the Knicks an insurmountable lead.
Outside of that shot, Smith was putrid from the field. He finished just 3-of-16, and 1-of-6 from three.
Jeff Green, BOS, SF: C
Jeff Green made too many mistakes in this game.
He was brought back to Boston with promises of guarding the LeBron Jameses and Carmelo Anthonys of the world, but hasn't shown a lot thus far. He was beaten by Anthony numerous times late in the game, proving why Doc Rivers rarely uses him in crunch time.
Green finished 4-of-7 for nine points and six boards in 25 minutes, but never appeared to be electric offensively. Green's good games usually feature a thunderous dunk or a couple incredible athletic moves. There was neither against New York.
New York Knicks Bench: B
Amar'e Stoudemire was actually the New York Knicks' second-leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony, totaling 15 points in just 20 minutes. He was 4-of-7 in the game, which may have been his best since returning on Jan. 1.
Pablo Prigioni drilled a couple threes for six points and collected four assists in 16 minutes off the bench.
Boston Celtics Bench: D
Taking away Jeff Green's mediocre output, the Celtics bench didn't supply the necessary effort to help win the contest.
Jared Sullinger played decently, but only got 15 minutes thanks to Green's increased role. He had seven points. Courtney Lee chipped in four points, but had a shocking minus-17 in a three-point game.
Jason Terry continued to not be as advertised, with a 1-of-6 performance. He missed some big shots that would have helped the Celtics immensely.