NEW YORK, April 24 — The New York Knicks turned up the defensive pressure in the second half once again to shut down the Boston Celtics and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series yesterday.
Trailing the visitors 48-42 at intermission, the Knicks outscored Boston 32-11 in the third quarter and limited them to 12 points in the fourth for an 87-71 victory.
“It’s about making adjustments at halftime,” said New York’s Kenyon Martin, who hauled down a team-leading 11 rebounds.
“Just being extra aggressive, coming out and playing a lot harder than we did in the first half. We were not helping one another. Same as in Game One.”
In the opening game, the Celtics held a seven-point lead in the final minute of the third quarter before New York began to claw back and then put a defensive stranglehold on them to allow just eight points in the fourth quarter of an 85-78 victory.
Guard Raymond Felton said the Knicks knew what they had to do when they came out for the third quarter yesterday.
“I think we were aggressive defensively, staying into our man and playing great help defense,” said Felton, who helped ignite the New York attack with seven rebounds and 16 points, many on assertive drives to the hoop.
“I think everyone knew what they had to do to get the lead, keep the lead and try to win the game.”
After winning the first two at home, the Knicks travel to Boston for Game Three on Friday and the fourth game on Sunday.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers dismissed the saying that a playoff series does not begin until a team wins on the road.
“I guess they say the series hasn’t started,” said Rivers. “I’ve heard this corny line a million times ... but I’m positive the series has started. Because we’re down 2-0.”
Rivers said the Knicks picked up their intensity after the break.
“They didn’t let us throw a knockout punch. And I thought in the second half they turned that on us and they threw a knockout punch. Several.”
Much of the scoring punch was provided by Carmelo Anthony, who came back from a 3-for-11 shooting performance in the first half to finish 11-for-24 with a game-high 34 points.
“Just a tale of two halves today, same as last game,” said the NBA scoring champion.
“In the third quarter we came out very aggressive and extended our defense. We applied pressure full court, we got stops and it opened up our offensive game.
“We buckled down on the defensive end and that’s what opened the game up for us.” – Reuters