NBA: Celtics edge Knicks on Pierce jumper with 0.4 left
NEW YORK (AP) – Paul Pierce made a tiebreaking jumper with 0.4 seconds left, Amare Stoudemire’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was ruled too late, and the Boston Celtics pulled out a thrilling 118-116 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night for their 11th straight win.
The Knicks had their eight-game winning streak snapped when a video replay of Stoudemire’s shot showed the ball was clearly still in his hands as time expired.
Pierce scored 32 points for the Celtics, who trailed most of the fourth quarter before running their record to 20-4, best in the Eastern Conference.
Stoudemire had 39 points, extending his franchise-record streak to nine straight 30-point games. But the Knicks were denied the victory over a top team they desperately craved to punctuate their return to relevance.
They get another chance Friday, when LeBron James and the Miami Heat come to Madison Square Garden.
“The Knicks have arrived,” Pierce said in a postgame television interview. “They’re going to be a force to reckon with in the division.”
Ray Allen scored 26 points and Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, enjoying their fifth winning streak of 10 games or more since their Big Three came together before the 2007-08 season.
Raymond Felton had 26 points and 14 assists, Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and Wilson Chandler had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for just the second time in their last 15 games.
Most of those victories came during a soft part of the schedule, leaving the Knicks needing a victory over an established NBA power to prove doubters they were back, despite their 16-10 record.
The Celtics just wouldn’t let it happen.
Stoudemire’s dunk snapped a 94-all tie with 8:05 left, and the Knicks stayed ahead until Garnett made two free throws with 1:29 remaining. Felton was late getting back after landing hard on a missed drive and the Celtics swung the ball around to Allen, whose 3-pointer gave Boston a 116-113 lead with 1:02 to play.
Gallinari answered with a three-point play and the Knicks got the ball back after the Celtics threw it away trying to find Allen, but Stoudemire’s shot from the lane rolled out.
Pierce ran the clock down and created enough space to make his shot over Stoudemire, who had picked him up on a switch. After a timeout, the Knicks inbounded the ball to Stoudemire behind the arc, and the Madison Square Garden crowd that was standing for most of the final minutes roared when his shot went through.
But the referees had ruled it came too late, and with the Celtics standing behind them as they watched it again on video, they saw their judgment was correct.