Even Celtics coach Rivers enjoys Knicks buzz

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As Doc Rivers dined with former teammate John Starks two nights ago, the topic of conversation turned to the days in the mid-1990s when the Knicks owned New York City.

"That," the Celtics coach said, "was the best."

Last night, for the first time in Rivers' tenure with Boston, he arrived at Madison Square Garden to play a game with enough buzz to at least conjure some of those memories.

And even though the Knicks' revival this season has a direct impact on his team, he still thinks it's good thing, especially for a city that's been basketball starved for quite some time.

"When they're playing well, this city, you're at least feeling the buzz," Rivers said. "It's the only arena still alive where you can go in and recount games that happened. You can't do that anywhere else for the most part. I think in that way, it's good, it's really good."

This is certainly a far different Knicks team than the one that lost to the Celtics, 105-101, on Oct. 29 in the season's second game en route to a 3-8 start. From looking at the tape of recent Knicks games, Rivers said it's easy to see that the Knicks are playing with a lot more confidence.

"Obviously [Amar'e] Stoudemire is playing off the charts but he was then," Rivers said. "I think it's the other guys, quite honestly."

And he's been impressed with rookie Landry Fields. "What he's doing for this team, he's usually guarding the best guard every night," Rivers said. "They don't run a lot of stuff for him, yet he still scores. It's rare a rookie understands his role."

 

Jump shots

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Mike D'Antoni was asked before the game whether there's been a more anticipated game in his two-plus years here. "The answer is no," he said. "It's pretty simple." . . . Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (right calf) did not play for a third straight game.

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