BOSTON -- The Knicks have the younger team, the new and improved bench and the hot point guard. But they still don't have enough to beat the Celtics in Boston.
Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin was back in Boston Sunday and was schooled by Rajon Rondo. The Knicks still had plenty of chances to win this playoff-type game and make a statement that they can be a real contender. Instead, they coughed up those opportunities and lost for the 11th straight time in Boston, falling 115-111 in overtime.
"They've won championships before," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "They understand how to close out quarters and close out games. That's something we've got to take a page out of their book and apply it to our team."
Rondo rang up a ridiculous triple-double of 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds. He's the first to have at least 17 in all three categories in the same game since a monstrous Magic Johnson triple-double in 1989. But a different kind of triple proved to be a dagger for the Knicks.
They erased a 15-point deficit and went ahead 103-100 on Steve Novak's two foul shots with 18.1 seconds left. Up three, Mike D'Antoni's philosophy is not to foul, and Paul Pierce made the Knicks pay. He hit a tying three-pointer with 4.9 seconds to go.
"We don't do that," D'Antoni said. "There was like five seconds left. We play it out. Now if it got down below three seconds, yeah, we tell guys."
After Pierce's shot, Carmelo Anthony misfired on a 17-footer from the right side that would have won the game in regulation. Anthony said he got the shot he wanted. "It had a chance to go in," he said.
Anthony finished with 25 points and gave the Knicks the lead with a tough pull-up over Pierce with 35.4 seconds left in regulation. But Anthony missed his last five shots. In overtime, he was 0-for-4 with a turnover.
Stoudemire had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Lin was 6-for-16, including 1-for-7 in overtime, and finished with 14 points, five assists and six turnovers.
The Knicks committed 22 turnovers that led to 23 Celtics points. The Knicks built a 12-point second-quarter lead, but their sloppy play led to them losing it.
"We were a little cavalier with the ball," D'Antoni said.
Pierce scored 34 points to lead the Celtics (19-17) and was 13-for-23 from the field. Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 10 rebounds and helped get Pierce open on Boston's final play of regulation.
The Celtics weren't smooth in their execution, but Garnett set a hard screen on Iman Shumpert that the rookie called "illegal." Shumpert recovered and got his hands up, but Pierce had enough space to get off his shot and buried the three-pointer.
"I don't know if that's execution," D'Antoni said. "That's having a horseshoe up your rear. That's what Paul Pierce does. We hit a hard shot -- Melo hits one. That's what he does. Paul hit one, he hit a dagger."
Said Shumpert: "The screen was illegal, but they set them all the time. They can't call it all the time. I understand that. But he still hit a tough shot."
In overtime, Ray Allen gave the Celtics a 108-105 lead with a three-pointer. On the next trip, the Knicks missed twice inside, leading to a Celtics run-out. Rondo fed Allen for a layup and a five-point lead with 3:13 left.
The Knicks could have drawn within one or tied the score two possessions later, but Anthony was called for traveling. The Celtics regained their five-point lead on the next trip as Rondo took a rebound away from Lin and scored inside with 1:56 remaining.
"They were able to finish the game," Tyson Chandler said. "They were the more poised team. We had it. I think our turnovers kind of cost us and it came back to bite us."