BOSTON — Forward Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points for the suddenly revitalized New York Knicks at TD Garden on Wednesday night. He got help from rookie guard Tim Hardaway, who came off the bench to add 22 in a 116-92 rout of the Boston Celtics.
But after the game, coach Mike Woodson said the game ball went to Cole Aldrich.
The fourth-year center out of Kansas, making his first NBA start with the Knicks, who were missing four frontcourt players, notched a double-double — his 12 points and 10 rebounds in 25-plus active minutes — helping his team to its fifth straight win.
“Stepped up big-time,” Anthony said after the Knicks, playing amid the swirling rumors that Phil Jackson is coming to run the organization, led wire-to-wire thanks to a 68-point first half fueled by going 9-of-10 from 3-point range. “Cole’s been very patient this year, sitting and waiting for his number to be called and when his number was called tonight he stepped up to the challenge–gave us a big lift offensively and defensively.”
Aldrich came into the game averaging 0.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game for the season, 1.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in his career.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about what I did today, it’s about the whole team and what we’re doing lately,” said Aldrich. “We’re coming out here and we’re playing really good basketball.”
The Knicks, 21-40 before this winning streak, climbed to within three games of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth, suddenly have a reason to play.
“We know we dug ourselves a hole throughout this season but right now this is the time to really make this push,” said Anthony. “We’re doing well right now and we want to keep it going.”
The Knicks were playing without frontcourt men Amar’e Stoudemire (day of rest), Tyson Chandler (personal), Andrea Bargnani (elbow) and Kenyon Martin (ankle), forcing them to give Aldrich the start.
Guard J.R. Smith scored 13 points for New York, which was guilty of only eight turnovers.
Forward Jeff Green scored 17 points in the third quarter and 19 of his 27 in the second half as the Celtics (22-43) lost their second straight and fell for the ninth time in 12 games.
Boston was without guards Rajon Rondo (resting on the back end of a back-to-back) and Avery Bradley (ankle).
Forward Kris Humphries added 15 points for the Celtics. He has 50 points and 25 rebounds in the past three games. Guard Jerryd Bayless also scored 15, and forward Jared Sullinger had 10 points and eight rebounds for Boston.
“It’s real tough — we got put in a hole,” said Green. “They got an early start, gave them a rhythm and it was hard to get that out of that rhythm.”
Coming into the game, the Celtics had held their past three opponents to a combined 12-of-61 from 3-point range. The Knicks then went wild from behind the arc in the first half. That helped the visitors score 36 points in the first quarter and 68 in the half, both totals the most allowed by the Celtics in a home quarter and half since 2005 (in separate games). The 68 points matched the high against Boston this season and the 116 point were the most scored by the Knicks in Boston since 1996.
“To their credit, they were executing at a high level with a very small team, very fast team, very skilled team,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. “And they used that speed to hurt us on the other end of the floor, too.”
NOTES: F Carmelo Anthony, a potential free agent at the end of the season, said Wednesday he was told by management that Phil Jackson is coming to New York to run the basketball operation. “I don’t think it’ll have any effect on me, just as far as what I’m thinking or my decision or anything like that,” Anthony said. “I haven’t talked to Phil yet, just to get his insight on a lot of things — what’s his lan, what’s his future plan — because everything’s in his hands now.” … The New York Daily News reported that Knicks owner James Dolan asked Bill Bradley, an old friend and teammate of Jackson, to serve as an intermediary in the team’s discussions with Jackson. … Celtics G Avery Bradley, who missed his 13th straight game with an ankle sprain, is on target to return Friday night when the Celtics host the Phoenix Suns. … The Knicks return home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.