April 23, 2018
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Smith, Anthony help Knicks beat up slumping Celtics

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony and the undermanned New York Knicks were just too much for the more-undermanned Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

Smith and Anthony combined for 61 points, and the Knicks, playing without injured big men Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, cruised to their fifth straight win, 100-85 over the rival Celtics. Boston was missing Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee and others.

“We want to be beat them. Let’s just be quite frank about it,” Anthony said after scoring 29 points on 10-for-30 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and three steals. “We always want to beat Boston. New York in anything wants to beat Boston, and when we do, it’s a great feeling.”

Smith, who scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half, added seven rebounds and three steals. He posted his third 30-point game of the season in 34:29 off the bench.

“There are 14 games left, and this is where we want to start our run,” Smith said. “We just want to keep going from here.”

The loss was the fifth in a row for the Celtics (36-34). The Knicks (43-26) pulled into a virtual tie with the Indiana Pacers for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Smith made big shot after big shot in a possible first-round playoff preview. He drained a 30-footer at the third-quarter buzzer.

“He made unbelievable shots,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “He beat us off the dribble, he made shots.”

Overall, Rivers said, “They played the game with more force than us.”

Added Boston guard Avery Bradley: “We weren’t playing hard on either end of the floor, weren’t pushing the ball … just weren’t playing the right way.”

The Knicks killed the Celtics on the offensive glass, running up a 29-6 advantage in second-chance points thanks to 15 offensive rebounds.

Jeff Green led Boston with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Paul Pierce, normally a Knicks killer (23.5 points per game against New York for his career coming in), scored 16 points but wasn’t effective.

Kenyon Martin, enjoying a rebirth since signing with the Knicks, had nine points and five rebounds. He has averaged 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in his 12 games with New York.

Martin appears to be a player who could have helped the Celtics, as Boston is having all kinds of trouble on the boards.

“That’s their fault, man, they lost,” Martin said. “There was talks, there was negotiation; they chose not to do it. It was out of my control. I’m a Knick now. So, they lost.”

Asked if he is upset that the Celtics passed on him, Martin said, “It just wasn’t them. Everybody upset me. It just wasn’t the Celtics, so everybody did it.

“I’m just here to prove to people that I ain’t never lost it.”

Breaking from a 35-35 tie, the Knicks enjoyed a 14-0 second-quarter run that started and ended with Steve Novak 3-pointers. The visitors never trailed again. Boston closed to within seven in the third quarter, but New York quickly put a stop to anything further.

The Celtics were guilty of 20 turnovers, while the Knicks coughed it up only eight times.

“It’s not easy winning in Boston,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We played a solid 48-minute ballgame. Everybody that played contributed, and I thought our defense set the tone of how we played.”

NOTES: Smith, Anthony and Martin, all one-time Denver Nuggets, combined for 70 points, 20 rebounds and six steals. … Lee was out early taking jump shots but was a scratch, with Jordan Crawford making his first Celtics start. “(Lee) just didn’t improve much,” Rivers said. “You pretty much prepare for everything, just like (Woodson does) over there. They’ve had the same stuff, so just a lot of injuries right now for us and for them.” As far as Crawford starting, Rivers said that was Terry’s idea. “He really does not like to start,” the coach said of Terry, who scored seven straight Boston points at the start of the second quarter but finished with just 10. “He likes coming off the bench.” … Adding up the stats of the five players absent because of injuries, the Celtics were missing 47.6 points, 19.5 rebounds and 19.8 assists per game. That counts Leandro Barbosa, who was lost for the season to a knee injury and was dealt to Washington in the Crawford deal. … Chandler missed his seventh straight game. … The Knicks host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, while the Celtics travel to Cleveland. … The Knicks, hoping for their first season series win over the Celtics since 2003-04, beat the Celtics on their first visit Jan. 24, but Boston won in New York Jan. 7. The teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

Timberwolves 105, Pistons 82: J.J. Barea tied his season high with 21 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves made seven 3-pointers in the third quarter as they rolled to a 105-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich., on Tuesday.

Center Nikola Pekovic contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds and Luke Ridnour added 15 points for the Timberwolves (25-44), who outscored the Pistons 38-16 in the third quarter to break the game open. Point guard Ricky Rubio supplied 14 points and nine assists as Minnesota made a season high 14 3-pointers.

Jose Calderon had 14 points and Greg Monroe chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds to top the Pistons (24-48), who ended a 10-game losing streak at Charlotte on Saturday. Another futility streak continued, as they lost their seventh straight at home.

Minnesota used its rare 3-point barrage in the third quarter to grow its six-point halftime lead. The Timberwolves, the league’s worst shooting team from long range, fired in five in the first six-plus minutes. Rubio hit two of those to make it 61-48.

Layups by Petrovic and Rubio pushed the advantage to 18, 70-52, before Minnesota returned to its outside game. Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Timberwolves continued to pull away, leading 82-54 by the end of the quarter.

That resulted in extended garbage time with each team resting starters in the fourth quarter.

Pekovic made 6 of 7 field-goal attempts in the first half, including a last-second layup to give the Timberwolves a 44-38 halftime lead. Calderon led the Pistons with 10 points but their offense was off-kilter, as they recorded just five assists in 16 baskets.

NOTES: Timberwolves forward Kevin Love missed his 40th consecutive game because of a broken hand. Detroit center Andre Drummond sat out his 22nd straight game with a back injury and reserve guard Will Bynum was sidelined by a right hand strain. … The Pistons’ last home victory came against Washington on Feb. 13, just before the All-Star break. They were 3-14 following the break, with two of the victories coming at Charlotte. … Minnesota had a four-game winning streak over the Pistons but this was the first meeting this season. They will play again in Minnesota on Saturday, April 6. … Minnesota ranked last in 3-point percentage (29.4 percent) entering the game, which surprises Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. “It’s a little bit crazy because they have a bunch of guys who can make them,” he said. “It’s just been one of those years for them.” … Longtime Pistons trainer Mike Abdenour missed the game after being placed on medical leave on Monday. … This was the first of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch for the Timberwolves. They have another one in April.

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