WALTHAM, Mass. -- Paul Pierce could have poked fun at the Knicks Monday, sticking it to them while they're down.
But the Celtics forward actually -- gasp -- said the unexpected when talking about the offensive foul he drew on Carmelo Anthony with 21 seconds left Sunday night, one of two critical calls that didn't go the Knicks' way in their 87-85 loss in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
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"I really didn't think it should have been a call, but I'm not the official," Pierce said before practice. "When you have two players of that caliber going at it, I think you should let 'em play. But I don't make the rules, I don't make the calls.
"I was just trying to be physical. I didn't want him to catch the ball easy. It turned into a wrestling match, truthfully."
Pierce may have baited Monty McCutcheon into making the call, flailing as Anthony tried to get position with the Knicks leading 85-84. Anthony's left arm got caught on Pierce while trying to shield him off and Anthony was whistled for the foul, handing the ball to Boston.
"It's always a double-edged sword because you work your butt off on defense," Pierce said. "When you get a call like that, it just shows your work. But if they don't make the call, Melo has an opportunity to score. And I love that challenge, just being able to stop the team's best player in crucial situations.
"But you kind of expect the same thing on the other end. If they are not going to make a call on one end, they shouldn't make it on the other end. Or if they do, it should go both ways. But when you've got two All-Stars battling, I think you should let them play."
Anthony, as one might imagine, couldn't agree more.
"It was a tough call, especially the way it was going the whole game with guys trying to get position in the post," Anthony said. "For that to come down to one play, that decision . . . What I thought about and what he called were two different things. It was going on the whole game, not just with me -- some physical play down there in the post.
"Especially with 20-something seconds left on the clock, I wasn't expecting a call like that."
That play led to Ray Allen's winning three-pointer, another sore subject for the Knicks. Replays appear to show Kevin Garnett sticking out his right leg as Toney Douglas tried to fight through a pick and get to Allen. Douglas took a spill, leaving Allen with an uncontested shot.
"They've been doing that for a lot of years," Douglas said. "They get a lot of respect in this league. You can say, 'Oh, I got tripped over, whatever.' But at the end of the day, I don't want no excuses. I just felt if I didn't get tripped, he wouldn't have had that shot. I know I wouldn't let him have a wide-open three."
Said Mike D'Antoni: "It was a foul, it was. [Garnett] elbowed him and he tripped him. Now, a lot of times they don't call that at the end of a game, and I'm not sitting here saying, 'Wow, oh my God.' It'd have been nice. It didn't happen and give Ray Allen credit. But it was clearly a foul."