BOSTON — Paul Pierce scored 30 points and Ray Allen had nine of his 14 in the final quarter to lift the Boston Celtics to a 91-89 win over the struggling New York Knicks on Friday night.
Kevin Garnett finished with 15 points and eight boards for the Celtics, who won for the seventh time in eight games.
Carmelo Anthony scored 26, Tyson Chandler had 20 with 11 rebounds and Amare Stoudemire had 16 with 11 rebounds for the Knicks. New York lost for the 11th time in 13 games.
Garnett grabbed his 10,000th career defensive rebound early in the second quarter, becoming the third player in NBA history to reach that mark. He’s behind former Celtic Robert Parish (10,117) and Karl Malone (11,406).
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo returned after missing the previous eight games with a right wrist injury, but was ineffective, scoring just seven points and getting seven assists.
After Iman Shumpert’s jumper from the right corner closed the score to 85-83, Allen nailed a 3 from the right wing. Following a put-back by Chandler, Allen caught the ball in the right corner, drove the baseline and hit a left-hander that rolled in, giving the Celtics a 90-85 lead with just under 2 minutes left.
But the Knicks battled back, closing the gap to one after an alley-oop layup by Chandler and a steal and breakaway layup by Landry Field’s with 1:26 left.
Following a miss by Pierce, Anthony missed a drive, but the ball went out of bounds off Brandon Bass’ hands, giving New York another chance.
But the Knicks turned it over. Pierce had what appeared to be an off-balance 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds left as the shot clock expired. But the officials overruled it following a reply review.
Fields missed a 3 from the left corner with 6 seconds left and Pierce grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He hit the first, but missed the second.
Steve Novak airballed a desperation 3 and Garnett batted the ball down the floor as time expired.
Boston, which trailed since late in the opening quarter, tied it at 77 on Chris Wilcox’s two free throws with 7:13 to play. The teams traded baskets and remained tied until Allen nailed a 3 from the right side with 4:24 to play. It was his first basket of the second half.
New York had a six-point halftime lead and increased it to 67-55 on Anthony’s off-balance jumper midway into the third quarter. Both teams then played sloppily, turning the ball over numerous times and missing jumpers as the Knicks maintained at least a nine-point edge until late in the quarter.
Boston scored the final seven points of the third, cutting it to 72-69 after three when Wilcox had a put-back of Pierce’s miss at the buzzer.
The Knicks led 28-27 after one quarter and scored 13 of the initial 18 in the second to pull ahead 41-32 on Fields’ 3 from the wing. They opened a double digit lead (48-37) on Jared Jeffries’ 3-point play with 2:36 left in the quarter en route to a 55-49 halftime edge.
Pierce’s long-range shooting kept Boston close in the opening half. He had 15 points, going 3 for 6 on 3s. Garnett had 13, going 6 of 7 from the floor, hitting a rare 3 from the left wing. It was only his second attempt this season and he’s made both.
With the crowd a little extra excited with the Patriots playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, it appeared to help get the teams energized early, with both teams appearing to play tough defense from the start.
Notes: Stoudemire had a season-high 34 points in a loss at home against Chicago on Thursday. … Rondo was hit in the face with an elbow early in the game and had a welt under his right eye. … With his team struggling to get wins, New York coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t worried before the game about minutes with his team playing the second of three in three nights. “We’ll see how everybody responds, but we need to win this game,” he said. The Knicks host New Jersey on Saturday. … Boston reserve G/F Marquis Daniels missed the game with a foot injury. … Boston coach Doc Rivers joked about the Boston-New York rivalry. “A lot of love,” he said, smiling, before talking about the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Giants. “These two cities have a pretty good game coming up on Sunday, too.” … Rivers was given a technical in the second quarter and Stoudemire got one midway into the third after being called for an offensive foul.