The contest was marked as the second showdown of the season between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett, but it was J.R. Smith who stole the show late.
While he only made 3-of-16 from the field on the night, Smith buried a clutch 3-pointer and forced a key turnover down the stretch to help the Knicks come away with an 89-86 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Thursday.
Albeit another rough shooting performance, Anthony scored a team-best 28 points on 11-of-28 from the field to help the Knicks avenge their loss to the Celtics on Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden, where things got a bit chippy between Anthony and Garnett.
The two got in a heated exchange during that contest, and Anthony confronted Garnett after the game, which resulted in a one-game suspension for the Knicks' superstar.
There were no incidents this time, with Anthony even helping Garnett up off the hardwood at one point.
"There's no grudges between myself and (Garnett)," Anthony said. "Whatever happened, happened. We spoke about that and it's over with. I don't hold grudges or anything like that."
Amare Stoudemire added 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench, while Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert contributed with 12 and 10 points, respectively, to give New York its first win in Boston since 2006, halting an 11-game losing streak there.
Meanwhile, the Celtics dropped a season-worst fifth straight despite a triple- double from Rajon Rondo. He scored a team-high 23 points to go with 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
Garnett had a quiet night scoring, finishing with just eight points but grabbed 12 rebounds in the defeat. Paul Pierce finished with 22 points.
The teams were neck-and-neck for much of the first 36 minutes of play until New York bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 15-4 run to take an 80-70 lead.
With two minutes left in the third, Tyson Chandler finished a three-point play and then added two free throws near the end of the quarter after Anthony buried a pull-up jumper.
Courtney Lee opened the fourth with a runner in the lane for Boston, but Anthony and Pablo Prigioni went back-to-back from long distance before Anthony gave the Knicks a 10-point edge with a finger roll at the 8:23 mark of the period.
Boston was able to rally and pulled within 86-84 after Rondo scored six straight points to cap a 14-6 push, but they couldn't come any closer.
Smith, who had only made two shots prior, knocked down a huge 3-pointer from the wing to bring the Knicks' advantage to 89-84 with just over a minute remaining. He then hounded Pierce after the Celtics came within three and forced him into a turnover, all but sealing the win for New York.
"The play was broken up and I tried to flash to the ball, really didn't get a good hand on it, and (Smith) made a good stab at the ball and it resulted in a turnover," recalled Pierce.
Pierce carried the Celtics with 19 points in the first half on 6-of-12 from the field, but missed the only three shots he attempted in the second half.
Shumpert and Stoudemire combined for 18 of the New York's 30 points in the second, with Shumpert scoring eight in a row for the Knicks as his back-to- back triples helped cut their deficit to 40-37.
Stoudemire made all six of his free throw attempts in the closing 1:18 to send the Knicks into halftime with a 50-48 lead.
Chandler was selected as an All-Star reserve for the Eastern Conference prior to the contest ... Pierce was not voted to the All-Star team for the first time since 2007 ... Boston outscored New York in the paint 50-32 ... The Celtics made just 3-of-18 from long distance ... Smith had nine points.