BOSTON -- The fans inside TD Garden weren't as hostile as Carmelo Anthony had expected Thursday night. But he drowned out whatever noise, boos and taunts he heard and helped lead the Knicks to a victory they needed to prove they could get.
Anthony was the focal point after his dust-up with Kevin Garnett a little more than two weeks ago at the Garden. He was focused and composed in scoring 28 points, and the Knicks got some huge plays down the stretch from J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Amar'e Stoudemire to pull out an 89-86 win over the Celtics.
The Knicks (26-14) ended a 13-game losing streak in this building, including playoffs. They moved one game up on the Nets and seven games ahead of the Celtics with their first win in Boston since 2006.
"The whole night was kind of satisfying," Anthony said. "Just to win in this building, it's been a long time coming. Like I said, I wasn't looking forward to any one-on-one matchups with myself and Garnett. It was just like any other game."
But the hype was huge -- "overrated," Anthony said. The last time they met, he and Garnett jawed at each other on the court, and after the game, Anthony confronted Garnett outside the Celtics' locker room and by their team bus. Anthony said it was behind him. Then he showed it was.
Anthony and Garnett exchanged obligatory pregame fist bumps and were matched up against each other on a few possessions. Garnett stuffed Anthony's layup attempt in the first half. In the third quarter, Garnett fell after being fouled by Tyson Chandler on a dunk attempt and Anthony helped him up.
"There's no grudges there with myself and KG," Anthony said. "Whatever happened, it happened. It's over with. We spoke about that and it's over with. I don't hold grudges. He fell and I helped him up."
Anthony was booed, as was anyone wearing a No. 7 Knicks jersey or anything Knick-related when shown on the Jumbotron. But several Knicks, including Anthony, remarked that it wasn't as crazy as they expected.
"I was thinking the crowd was going to be a little more rude," Stoudemire said.
Anthony and the Knicks passed some major tests in this game. They showed they can handle their surroundings, emotions and the opponent's physical play. The Knicks have shown they can be hot-headed and lose their cool in these situations, and it's hurt them. Being able to win games like this one is critical for them to make a deep playoff run.
"We didn't want to get into a physical altercation. That was the main adjustment," Stoudemire said.
"We had to see what we were made of," Mike Woodson said. "Could we come back in a hostile environment and win a game? I thought our guys answered the bell."
Anthony shot 11-for-28 from the field, making seven of his last 12 shots. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
Stoudemire scored 15 points and had nine rebounds. After a 10-2 run by the Celtics, Stoudemire had a big tip-in with 3:23 left to put the Knicks up 86-82.
Smith shot only 3-for-16 but buried a huge three-pointer that gave the Knicks an 89-84 lead with 1:11 left. He also forced Paul Pierce to lose the ball out of bounds with 7.1 seconds left and the Knicks ahead by three. Shumpert scored 10 points and helped cause a turnover with 1:06 to go.
"Those were two big plays we had to have coming down the home stretch," Woodson said.
The Celtics' Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Pierce scored 22 points, but only three in the second half. Garnett had eight points and 12 rebounds.
"For me, it was a matter of blocking everything out and just locking in from a basketball standpoint," Anthony said. "It's a matter of doing what I have to do and us doing what we have to do to win this game."