BOSTON -- This time Kevin Garnett was at a loss for words. There apparently was no harsh repartee with Carmelo Anthony on the court, and there definitely was no rehash of anything that did or didn't happen.
After a few cursory questions about the Celtics' loss Thursday night, Garnett was asked if his contretemps with the Knicks star finally was over.
He immediately stood up, cleared his throat and left. "Let me out," he said to the cluster of reporters standing over him. "You take it easy."
Garnett did tell a Celtics team official that he would see him on the plane, as the team was heading to Atlanta for a game Friday night. There clearly was not going to be anyone waiting to accost Garnett near the team bus this time.
Fact is, the Celtics have bigger issues than Garnett reportedly having made a comment about Anthony's wife the last time they played the Knicks.
They have lost five in a row, they are two games under .500, they seemed to come unglued when they had the ball down the stretch and they even endured speculation on the TNT telecast that they were blasting canned crowd noise over the public address system (the team tweeted that that was not the case).
All of this happened after Anthony had a big second half, on his way to 28 points, that made him look as if he were worthy of being on a Wheaties box.
Anthony wasn't perfect, but he was good enough when it counted to beat a vulnerable team.
"Eleven-for-28 for Carmelo, if you had told me that before the game, I would have taken it," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who earlier had given lavish praise to Anthony. "Having said that, I thought the one stretch where he got it going hurt us."
Before the game, Rivers had described Anthony's shot as "beautiful" and called him "an exceptional offensive player." Afterward, the coach regretted having had to use a timeout with 8:23 left after Anthony made a layup to put the Knicks ahead by 10 (less than two minutes after nailing a three-pointer). "I just thought we were losing our spirit," he said.
The Celtics could have used a chance to regroup in the final 1:11 after a three-pointer by J.R. Smith, who shot 3-for-16, put the Knicks up by five. "Give J.R. credit. He's going to keep shooting, and that's what he should do. He's a good player," Rivers said.
His own team turned the ball over twice in the final 1:06, including a bobble out of bounds by Paul Pierce with 7.1 seconds left. "We didn't execute down the stretch," Pierce said after scoring 22 points.
It didn't matter that Rajon Rondo had a triple-double (23 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) or that the Celtics played harder than they had recently.
"A loss is a loss," Rondo said. "You try to take positives out of it, but at the end of the day, you lost the game."
No, it wasn't a good reminder that effort speaks louder than words. Said Garnett, "No one has to tell us. We're professionals."