Anthony scored 17 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter for a New York squad which blew an early 17-point lead and managed to squeeze out a 106-104 triumph in the season opener for both clubs. 'Melo and the Knicks will take their swings at the Celtics again tonight, only this time they will head north to TD Garden, where New York has dropped its last nine games.
The Knicks haven't won in Beantown since a 101-77 victory back on Nov. 24, 2006 and are just 2-12 in the past 14 matchups at Boston. The Celtics had a healthy Rajon Rondo in the first meeting with New York on Dec. 25, as the speedy point guard registered 31 points, 13 assists and five rebounds. Rondo, however, is out indefinitely with a right wrist injury and has missed the past eight games, with the Celtics going 6-2 in that span.
New York hasn't enjoyed much success lately, losing 10 of 12 games, including Thursday's 105-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls at MSG in the first of three games in as many days. Amare Stoudemire, who scored 21 points in the first encounter with Boston, racked up 34 and 11 rebounds versus the Bulls, while Anthony pumped in 26 points and Landry Fields netted 17 in defeat.
"For the most part, we played extremely hard tonight," Anthony said on the team's website. "We've got to pat ourselves on the back for something. We can go and magnify the turnovers late in the second quarter; we still had a chance to win the basketball game."
The Knicks shot 48.9 percent for the game and are playing back-to-back-to-back games for the first time since Mar. 20-22, 1999, when they beat Boston and lost to both Toronto and Atlanta. The Knicks will host New Jersey on Saturday after their trip to Beantown and own a 4-7 mark as the guest this season.
As previously noted, the Celtics have won six of eight games without Rondo in the lineup and are 7-2 in their previous nine contests. They posted their second straight win with Wednesday's 100-64 decision over the Toronto Raptors, as Paul Pierce finished with 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Pierce explained somewhat how Boston has succeeded without its top floor general.
"We're just starting to play better and be more consistent at home," said Pierce, who is 60 points shy of tying Larry Bird (21,791) for second on the team's all-time scoring list. "When Rondo isn't in the game we've got to be more unselfish."
Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox both added 12 points for Boston, which opened a five-game homestand on a positive note and improved to 7-6 as the host. The Celtics led by as many as 40 points in the fourth quarter, shot 12-of-24 from beyond the three-point line and added 30 assists on 39 baskets.
Pierce missed the first three games of the season with a heel injury and didn't get a chance to face the Knicks on Christmas. In 47 career games against the Knicks, Pierce is averaging 22.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Pierce led the Celtics with a double-double effort in three games against New York last year, averaging 26.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
The Celtics will also host the Grizzlies, Bobcats and Lakers on the residency.