After being pushed around by the New York Knicks in the first three games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the Boston Celtics showed some fight.
Jason Terry scored Boston's final nine points of overtime, beginning with a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:32 left, and the Celtics staved off elimination with a hard-earned 97-90 Game 4 decision over the Knicks at a raucous TD Garden.
Terry finished with 18 points, with Paul Pierce putting up a team-best 29 and Jeff Green adding 26 to help Boston force a Game 5 that will be held Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Kevin Garnett did his part as well by pulling down 17 rebounds and recording nine of his 13 points in the second half and OT.
"This is a big one for us, obviously, but we've got to come up with the exact same aggression, the exact same thought of mind," said Green. "We've just to play every possession, every defensive possession, like it's our last. We have nothing to lose, everything's on them."
Playing without NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, suspended for the contest after being assessed with a flagrant elbow of Terry during Friday's 90-76 New York victory in Game 3, the Knicks struggled to a 34.4 percent field goal percentage. New York still managed to overcome a 20-point second-half deficit and send the game into extra minutes behind a dominant third quarter, during which Raymond Felton dropped in 16 of his 27 points.
"I'm not using that as an excuse," said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson of Smith's absence. "We had enough tonight. I thought our guys competed and did what they were supposed to do, to get back in the game and give us a chance at the end to win it. But we didn't make the plays coming down the home stretch, they did."
Carmelo Anthony topped the Knicks with 36 points, but went just 10-of-35 from the floor and 0-for-7 from 3-point range. Iman Shumpert compiled a double- double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in defeat.
Terry put Boston ahead to stay when his pull-up trey in transition broke an 88-88 deadlock, and after Anthony scored on the other end, knocked down another critical jumper from 12-feet to restore the 3-point lead with 50.4 seconds left.
"That's what he does," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Terry. "He's made so many big shots in his career. That's a shot, that transition three, that's something he works on all the time."
Anthony misfired again on New York's next trip down the court, this time from beyond the arc while well defended, and Terry made a pair from the foul line after being fouled while attempting to retrieve the rebound to seal the win with 20.4 seconds on the final clock.
The Celtics appeared to be in full control after a Green 3-pointer just over 2 1/2 minutes into the second half made the score 59-39 in Boston's favor, but he along with Garnett and fellow big man Brandon Bass all picked up their fourth foul before the third quarter was halfway through.
With Felton's torrid shooting leading the way, the Knicks capitalized.
He and Anthony fueled a 12-2 surge that trimmed the lead to 61-51 with 5:10 to go in the third quarter, and Felton accounted for 11 points during a 14-3 run later on, creating a one-possession game. Consecutive treys from Shumpert and Felton finished out New York's strong period and left Boston clinging to a 68-65 edge entering the fourth.
The Knicks drew even when Shumpert followed Kenyon Martin's driving basket with a steal of Pierce and subsequent layup to forge a 74-74 tie with 7:16 remaining, but a Garnett jumper and two free throws from Green sent the Celtics back in front just over a minute later.
Boston was up 82-77 with a little over four minutes to play, before Shumpert buried a clutch 3-pointer from the corner and Anthony drove and scored to knot the contest once more.
Felton gave New York its first lead of the day by dribbling off a Tyson Chandler pick and sinking an 18-footer for an 84-82score, but Garnett calmly drained the equalizer from the left wing on the ensuing possession. Boston had one last chance to prevail in regulation, but Pierce's contested jumper from just inside the arc fell short.
Boston failed to eclipse 78 points in each of the first three games of the series, but it was the Knicks who were plagued by offensive problems early on.
New York went without a field goal for a stretch of more than six minutes in the opening quarter, going 0-for-8 from the floor and committing five turnovers during the sequence. The drought enabled Boston to build a 14-5 lead midway through the period on the strength of a 9-0 run in which Pierce netted five points.
"We just couldn't make shots," said Martin. "We did a lot of other things well I think, but we just couldn't make shots."
The Knicks did cut the deficit down to 22-17 at the quarter's end following a 3-point play from Anthony, but continued to miss shots at the outset of the second as the Celtics pushed the margin to 14 via another 9-0 spurt to begin the frame.
Anthony scored the initial six points of a 9-2 flurry that brought New York within 35-28 with five minutes left in the half, but the Knicks fell behind further soon afterward while bogging down on the offensive end once again.
Back-to-back baskets in the paint from Pierce and Green restored a double- digit advantage for Boston, and the Celtics took a commanding 54-35 into the break after closing the second quarter on a 12-3 tear, highlighted by a pair of Pierce triples and Terry's successful jumper with just 1.1 seconds on the clock.
New York finished the half with a troublesome 28.9 shooting percentage and 13 turnovers, with Anthony going just 3-of-15 from the field while attempting to single-handedly carry the scoring load.
Anthony ended 16-of-20 from the foul line and set a new Knicks' playoff record for free throw attempts, breaking Latrell Sprewell's mark of 19 set against Atlanta in Game 2 of the 1999 Eastern Conference semifinals ... The Knicks finished just 7-of-30 on 3-point tries, though Felton went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc ... New York outrebounded the Celtics by a 54-40 margin, with 16 of those boards coming on the offensive end.