Rajon Rondo had his second triple-double in three games, spoiling Harvard grad Jeremy Lin's return to Boston on Sunday and leading the Boston Celtics to a 115-111 overtime victory over the New York Knicks.
Rondo had 18 points, 20 assists and a career-high 17 rebounds, and Paul Pierce scored 34 — including a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Kevin Garnett scored 18 with 10 rebounds, and Ray Allen gave the Celtics the lead for good with a 3-pointer to make it 108-105, then followed it with a fast-break layup — both on assists from Rondo.
Lin picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and struggled to 14 points in 32 minutes. He had five assists and four rebounds while shooting 6 for 16 from the floor.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points for the Knicks, six of them in the final 100 seconds of regulation as they briefly took the lead. Amare Stoudemire scored 16 with 13 rebounds and Tyson Chandler had 14 boards for New York as it fell a game below .500 and 1 1-2 games behind Boston in the Eastern Conference.
Lin, who led the Knicks to seven straight wins after cracking the rotation, had one stretch to remind his fans in Boston what the fuss is all about. Boston led 94-89 with 3:35 left in regulation when he sank the second of two free throws, stole the ball and took it in for a layup and then hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one point.
Anthony took it from there, making the next three Knicks baskets and giving them a 101-100 lead with 36 seconds left. Pierce missed one attempt at a game-winner, but after Novak made a pair of free throws the Celtics captain sank a long, off-balance 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to tie it 103-all.
Anthony missed at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Once there, Rondo took over.
He found Allen on the wing for a 3-pointer that gave Boston a 108-105 lead and, after Lin's driving layup bounced around and off the rim, Rondo wound up with the ball on the fast break and dropped it for Allen for the layup.
Lin's last trip to play the Celtics, on Feb. 3, he scored just two points in under seven minutes. The next night, he came off the bench to score 25 points against the New Jersey Nets. He has been in the starting lineup ever since, sparking a seven-game winning streak that rejuvenated the Knicks and gave birth to Linsanity.
The phenomenon has been felt back in Cambridge, too.
Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust met with Lin before the game, and Crimson coach Tommy Amaker was also at the game one day after the Crimson beat Cornell to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title.
The rest of the crowd greeted Lin rudely in the first quarter, but two fouls in the first three minutes seemed to eliminate the chance that it would be another big game.
The Knicks fell behind 21-12 in the first quarter before scoring the next 12 points. It was 52-40 New York with 3:33 left in the second, but Boston cut it to five points at the half when the Knicks committed two turnovers in the final 37 seconds and then Anthony fouled Rondo with 0.9 seconds left, sending him to the line for two free throws that made it 56-51.
Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter when the Celtics went on a 19-2 run to turn a five-point deficit into a double-digit lead. New York led 60-55 when the Celtics scored 11 straight points, including a 3-pointer by Pierce that tied it 60-all.
Lin threw the ball away and Pierce took it in for a layup that made it 66-60 and then, after Lin made a runner, Boston scored another eight in a row to open a 74-62 lead with 3:12 to play in the third. After Baron Davis made a 3-pointer, Boston scored another six in a row, including a 3-pointer from Pierce.
Notes: Allen and J.R. Smith picked up matching technicals after jawing under the basket early in the fourth quarter. ... Celtics F Brandon Bass rolled his left ankle in the third quarter and went to have it taped. He returned. ... Jeff Green, who is out this year after surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, sat on the Celtics bench in street clothes. ... Doc Rivers spent Saturday night watching his son Austin play for Duke against North Carolina in Durham, N.C. ... The Knicks shot 62 percent (13-for-21) in the second quarter while holding the Celtics to 8-for-22 shooting.