After recent losses against the Pacers, Pistons, and Bucks, it had become increasingly clear that the Knicks struggles against teams they should be beating up on that.
Having said that, it wouldn't have been surprising for the Knicks to turn up the heat and beat the Celtics, the toast of Eastern Conference, as beating teams as the underdog has also become a knack the Knicks have honed this season as well.
Though the Knicks had a 14 point lead (51-37) at the halfway point, with Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups all in double figures, the team let it all crumble away in the second half.
Sure, the Knicks certainly came to play, as the physical matchup between the two teams was the most perhaps the intense of the New York's season. Glen Davis, Ray Allen, and Carmelo Anthony were all sent flying to the floor at various times during the game, and a standoff between Allen and Stoudemire almost cost the Knicks' superstar his 16th technical foul, and thus, a one game suspension.
Through all the intensity, the Knicks still let this one slip away from them as the Celtics charged through the duration of the game's final minutes, proving an NBA game isn't over until you've played the full 48.
While the argument that the Knicks playing so competitively against the Celtics is impressive enough can be made, this was more than just a game against the best team in the East. This game was about redemption, and showing that the Knicks belong in talks of contention. Unfortunately, being included in those talks will just have to wait a little longer now.
Kevin Garnett led the way for Boston down the stretch, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce added 21 points of his own.
Stoudemire and Anthony went cold for the Knicks in the fourth quarter, not scoring a final point between them. This, coupled with the lack of a killer instinct that has yet to arrive at MSG this season, gave way to a loss for the team. Nevertheless, Anthony led his team in the losing effort with 22 points, while Billups poured in 21 of his own. Ronny Turiaf, who got the start at center, worked under the basket to add 11 points as well.