Celtics, Knicks renew their rivalry in NYC

( - It's still too early to talk playoffs, but the Boston Celtics can make a run with improved play over the course of the next few months.

The Celtics are four games off a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference and will try to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Boston is back on the road after losing consecutive home games to the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat. The Celtics posted a respectable 3-3 mark on a recent western road swing and have a less-than-stellar 7-15 road record. They weren't so super with an 83-75 loss to the Heat on Super Bowl Sunday.

Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller scored 17 points apiece and Brandon Bass ended with 15 for the Celtics, who scored a season-low in points and made 37 percent from the field. The Celtics only scored 15 points in the first quarter, 16 in second and 16 in the fourth. Miami had 17 points in the third.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was pleased with the defensive effort.

"We started to shore (our defense) up. The third quarter was great," Stevens said.

Bradley suffered a thumb injury Sunday and is questionable against New York. He is averaging 13.1 points per game.

Boston is 9-18 against conference opponents this season.

The Knicks can forget about making a charge toward the postseason, but have been playing well in the past few games. They have won five of the past seven, including Sunday's 92-80 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at MSG.

In a battle between struggling teams with glorious backgrounds, Knicks All- Star Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points on 13-of-25 shooting and is averaging 25.9 points over the last seven games. Anthony, who has been bothered by a balky knee, talked about how he felt after the game.

"I got some rest," Anthony said. "Today was one of those days my body felt much better than it did yesterday. I felt good today."

Anthony helped the Knicks race out to a 32-19 lead after the first quarter. Things slowed down for New York with 15 points in the second quarter, but the home team racked up 45 in the second half to prevail. Langston Galloway was the only other Knick to finish with 10 or more points and had 13.

New York is just 6-23 against the East and one of those wins was a 101-95 decision against the Celtics on Dec. 12 at TD Garden. Anthony scored 22 points for the Knicks, who have won three in a row against the Atlantic Division rivals.

The Knicks and Celtics will meet again Feb. 25 and March 27.