J.R. Smith celebrates after hitting a three-point shot to end...

J.R. Smith celebrates after hitting a three-point shot to end the first quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. (April 23, 2013) Credit: Getty

Carmelo Anthony found his stroke in the second half, about the same time the Knicks displayed the playoff type of defense and intensity that could drive them deep in this postseason.

Anthony scored 34 points and nearly outscored the Celtics by himself in the second half as the Knicks shut down Boston again after halftime. The Knicks won, 87-71, to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.

The Knicks held Boston to just 23 points after halftime, establishing a new playoff franchise low for any half. In Game 1, the Celtics scored just eight fourth-quarter points, a Knicks' playoff record for any quarter.

"We know what type of team we are," Anthony said. "We know when we buckle down on the defensive end it's been hard for teams. We've been showing that all season long. It's just now in the playoffs everything is magnified times 10."

This is the first time the Knicks have the home-court advantage in the playoffs since 2001 and first time they're up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series since 1999. They're two wins from advancing for the first time since 2000. The series shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

After starting 3-for-12, Anthony made eight of his last 12 shots. He had 19 points in the second half when the Knicks outscored Boston 45-23. Anthony has 70 in the first two games of the series.

"Melo struggled, but at the end of the night he was still there to make the plays we needed him to make from an offensive standpoint," Mike Woodson said. "He figures it out. The great ones do that."

The Knicks, who shot 4-for-17 in the second quarter and trailed by nine late in half, broke open the game with a 32-11 third quarter, once again making Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce look old and worn down.

After holding Boston to 25 points in the second half in Game 1, they were even stingier defensively this time. Kenyon Martin made his presence felt inside with four second-half blocks and seven defensive rebounds. The Knicks held the Celtics to just 7-for-36 shooting after halftime. "Their intensity, I thought they upped it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought we attacked them in the first half. They didn't let us throw a knockout punch. I thought in the second half they threw a knockout punch, several of them."

J.R. Smith, who was presented with his Sixth Man of the Year trophy before the game, had 19 points. Ray Felton added 16 points and played solid defense on Pierce, despite giving up six inches and about 30 pounds to him. Felton helped spark a 26-6 third-quarter run.

"He changed the game in the third quarter," Woodson said.

Pierce led the Celtics with 18 points. Garnett was quiet again, finishing with 12 points in 24 foul-plagued minutes.

The Knicks led 74-59 to start the fourth, and let the Celtics cut it to nine twice. But each time Anthony drilled a big basket to make a double-digit advantage again as the Knicks went on to win their 12th straight at home.

"All we did was take care of home," Kenyon Martin said. "Now it's time to go up there and see if we can get Game 3. That's our focus."

"We have to prepare for the emotions that will be taking place in Boston on Friday," Anthony said. "But as a team we have to go in there, being together, staying together, knowing it's going to be a game with runs, knowing it's going to be very emotional in that building. We're going in there to win that game. That's going to be our mentality."

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