NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, and the New York Knicks made 19 3-pointers to keep alive their Atlantic Division title hopes with a 118-110 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
JR Smith and Steve Novak both scored 25 points for the Knicks, who overcame a season-high 43 points from Paul Pierce and moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference while trimming Boston’s division lead to 3 1/2 games. The Celtics would have wrapped up their fifth straight Atlantic title with a victory.
Instead, the Knicks staggered them with a record-tying 14 3-pointers in a 72-point first half and equaled their season high by finishing 19 of 32 behind the arc. They improved to 14-5 under interim coach Mike Woodson.
Tyson Chandler had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting for the Knicks, who finished one short of their franchise record for 3s, set last season.
Kevin Garnett scored 20 points for the Celtics, who fell out of a three-way tie for fourth in the East with Atlanta and Orlando. Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 13 assists.
Playing without the injured Ray Allen, the Celtics got a brief scare in the third quarter when Rondo landed hard on his back going for a rebound and remained on the court for a few minutes while being attended to before remaining in the game.
Woodson has repeatedly said the division title was his goal, even though the Knicks’ 18-24 record when he took over always made that unlikely. Boston coach Doc Rivers said he’s never talked to the Celtics about winning a division title or congratulated them for doing so, but there’s no doubt it’s worth having this season. Division winners are guaranteed to be seeded no worse than No. 4, avoiding Chicago or Miami until at least the second round.
Allen missed his fifth straight game when he felt pain in his right ankle Tuesday morning. He had gone through the morning shootaround and Rivers assumed he was set to play before the pain returned. Neither was sure if Allen would play Wednesday against Orlando.
Allen, the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers made, would have fit in perfectly in this game.
The Celtics jumped to an 8-2 lead, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Knicks. New York scored the final 10 points of the first quarter, going up 32-26 behind 12 points from Anthony and 63 percent shooting.
The Knicks then scored eight straight points to open the second quarter, capping an 18-0 run when Smith’s 3-pointer made it 40-26 with 9:16 left. Consecutive 3s by Mike Bibby and Smith later made it 54-35 midway through the second, and the lead reached 20 points when Novak was fouled while making a 25-footer, falling backward out of bounds and into the arms of Woodson – the only time anyone got near a Knicks shooter in the half.
Novak hit two more before halftime, the Knicks taking a 72-53 lead into the locker rooms as The Gap Band’s ”You Dropped a Bomb on Me” played over Madison Square Garden’s speakers. But Pierce had 17 points in the third quarter to get the Celtics back into it, and the Knicks led 96-84 after three.
When Rondo landed hard in the third quarter, a long jumper by Anthony was reviewed by officials as the Celtics attended to him on the court and changed to yet another 3-pointer.
The Celtics finally got within single digits late in the game, with Pierce scoring four straight to cut it to 112-106 with 3:07 left. But Novak hit two 3-pointers around a jumper by Rondo, putting it away at 118-108.
Notes: The Celtics played without swingman Mickael Pietrus, who was sent back to Boston with knee pain that Rivers assumed was caused by playing on three straight nights after a lengthy absence with a head injury. … The Knicks play their next three on the road and have just one home game remaining, next Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. … The Celtics finished 1-6 this season on the road against division rivals.