BOSTON — The Boston Celtics blew a 17-point second-quarter lead and then rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Knicks, 90-86, on Friday night.
It was Boston's second win over New York in six days, but this one was entirely different than the 114-73 blowout at Madison Square Garden last Sunday.
The Celtics, down 79-68 with 10:32 left, held the Knicks to just two field goals in the final 7:16, ran off 10 points to climb right back in the game and took the lead for good on guard Avery Bradley's 3-pointer from the right corner with 2:38 left.
The New York offense, which looked good much of the night, fell into watching forward Carmelo Anthony make his own offense down the stretch — and again it failed as the Knicks fell to 6-16.
Forward/center Jared Sullinger led the first-place Celtics (11-14 with seven wins in their last 11 games) with 19 points, but 17 came in the first half. Guard Courtney Lee came off the bench with a season-high 18 points (6-for-8 from the floor, 3-for-3 from 3-point range), Bradley had 13 and forward Brandon Bass 10 points and eight rebounds.
Anthony, 9-for-24 from the floor but only 1-for-8 in the fourth, led New York with 26 points, Forward Andrea Bargnani had 22 and forward Amar'e Stoudemire came off the bench with a season-high 18 points (in a season-high 30 minutes).
Last Sunday in New York, the Celtics jumped to an 18-1 lead that became 38-11 after the first quarter. That basically ended that game. This game started out differently.
In fact, New York led 26-24 late in the first quarter when the Celtics took over. A 19-2 run gave Boston a 17-point lead four minutes into the second quarter. The Knicks went some 6 1/2 minutes between field goals and looked to be out of it.
But the Knicks started chipping away at the lead and seven points by Anthony in the final 2:05 of the half closed the gap to six at the break. They took the lead for the first time since the first quarter on forward Kenyon Martin's slam with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Martin was injured and didn't play in the game in New York. He had eight points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes Friday.Celtics guard Jordan Crawford and forward Jeff Green, who combined for 39 points last Sunday, totaled 10 Friday, but Green hit two big shots down the stretch. Crawford was 0-for-8 from the floor.
Notes: New York G Pablo Prigioni, who had played 362 minutes coming in, was awarded (and made) his first two free throws of the season in the first quarter. ... Celtics rookie C/F Kelly Olynyk returned after missing 10 games with a right ankle sprain, coming back with no restrictions but with his conditioning monitored. He entered Friday's game with 36.5 seconds left in the first quarter. ... F Kris Humphries missed his second straight game with a knee injury. ... For the Knicks, G Iman Shumpert, who missed a game with a bruised knee, was back and started. PG Raymond Felton is expected to miss three weeks with a hamstring injury, putting Prigioni in the starting lineup. ... The Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night and the Celtics are off until they face the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Monday night.