Pablo Prigioni scores 14, helps get Knicks off to a big lead
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BOSTON -- The Knicks know they need to find scoring from sources other than Carmelo Anthony if they're going to build on this postseason series victory.
Pablo Prigioni answered that call in Game 6 Friday night, providing a burst of offense at the start of both halves en route to a series-clinching 88-80 win over the Boston Celtics.
The 36-year-old rookie from Argentina has helped the Knicks in so many ways this season, but scoring has not been one of them. Yet there was Prigioni knocking down threes and outscoring the entire Celtics team for most of the first quarter.
He finished with 14 points, which matches a career high, shot 5-for-9 and also had five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. During the regular season, he scored double-digit points only four times, and he hadn't done it since Jan. 30.
Not only was Prigioni's scoring unexpected, it was was a key to taking the energy out of the Celtics' home crowd.
His three first-quarter three-pointers went a long way toward quieting Boston fans who were especially fired up after the scoreboard showed highlights of the 2004 American League Championship Series.
The Celtics and their fans came into this game dreaming of making NBA history just like the Red Sox, who in 2004 became the first baseball team to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series. But those optimistic visions were put on hold early, in large part because of Prigioni.
His third three-pointer, a 24-footer with 5:26 left, opened an 18-5 lead and shushed the home crowd. That gave Prigioni nine points; the entire Celtics team didn't eclipse that many points until less than a minute remained in the quarter.
Prigioni added another offensive burst at the start of the third quarter, throwing an alley-oop pass that led to Tyson Chandler's dunk to open the second-half scoring. He added five more points, including his fourth three-pointer of the game, as the Knicks built a 20-point lead. That lead reached 26 points and was quickly cut to four before the Knicks held on.
Signed last offseason after spending the bulk of his career in Spain, Prigioni has proven to be an asset running the team and providing defense, although Mike Woodson said he worried early in the season whether Prigioni could adapt to the speed of the NBA game.
"Pablo's a pro," Carmelo Anthony said. "He's been around the game of basketball for a very long time . . . He's very intelligent, very smart."
And now, in the biggest game yet, he's also showed the Knicks he can score.