The Knicks were on their home court with a chance to clinch their first playoff series victory in 13 years and were so confident it would happen, each player wore something black to the game, symbolically because they were expecting it to be the Celtics' funeral.
But the Celtics are very much alive, and the Knicks could be in trouble.
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An awful offensive showing by Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and the Knicks led to a 92-86 loss Wednesday night in Game 5 of the best-of-seven first-round series. Once leading 3-0, the Knicks go to Boston for Game 6 Friday clinging to a 3-2 lead.
"We was going to a funeral, but it looks like we got buried,'' Smith said. "We'll take that. It's all part of being humbled. Basketball is a very humbling game.''
The last thing the Knicks wanted to do was give the Celtics hope, but they have.
No NBA team has been up 3-0 and lost a series, and the Knicks don't want to be the first. If they don't win in Boston, Game 7 will be back here on Sunday.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, but now it's a series,'' coach Mike Woodson said. "Now we got to see what we're made of, see if we can go back into Boston and get the game we let get away here, get it back.''
Anthony followed his 10-for-35 performance in the Game 4 loss with an 8-for-24 effort last night and finished with 22 points. He injured his left shoulder in the second half, but stayed in the game. Anthony shot just 2-for-10 after halftime.
Smith was back after being suspended for Game 4 for throwing an elbow at Jason Terry. Smith said the series would have been over had he not been suspended, and with a chance to prove himself, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year missed his first 10 shots. He finished 3-for-14 and had 14 points. The Knicks shot 39.5 percent overall (32-for-81)
After falling behind 11-0, the Celtics showed the mettle and fight most expected of them earlier in the series. After the game, there was nearly a fight.
"I'm not thinking about no Jordan Crawford right now,'' Anthony said. "I don't even think he deserves for you to be typing [his name] right now.''
Said Felton, "When you're in the playoffs things get intense sometimes, words are said. Nothing serious."
Jeff Green led Boston with 18 points. Brandon Bass and Terry each had 17 and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett added 16 apiece. Garnett also grabbed 18 rebounds, and was involved in the play when Anthony got hurt.
Anthony was on defense, and Garnett pulled his arm. Anthony grimaced and let his arm hang. He didn't leave the game but was ineffective thereafter.
"I guess he was trying to take my arm with him,'' Anthony said. "We got tangled up a little and he kind of yanked my arm and shoulder a little bit. But I'm fine.''
The Knicks trailed 75-60 after a Green slam with 9:05 left. The Celtics came up empty on their next six trips and the Knicks scored seven unanswered points to get within 75-67 with 5:57 left.
Boston answered with back-to-back baskets, the second a Terry three-pointer to make it 80-67 with 4:59 to go. Later, Green hit two threes and the Celtics led 88-76 with 2:24 left.
The Knicks made one last run, and cut it to 88-83 on a Smith three-pointer with 1:05 left. On the next trip, Garnett pump-faked Tyson Chandler into the air and created enough space to knock down a 20-footer with 48.3 seconds to go and send the series back to Boston.
"Mentally we're in a great place,'' Anthony said. "We still understand that we control our own destiny. We'll see what we're made of when we go up there to Boston and see if we can close it out in Boston.''