Celtics, Knicks renew rivalry in MSG matinee

11:56 AM, Dec 8, 2013   |    comments
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(SportsNetwork.com) - Longtime adversaries, the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics renew their rivalry in a Sunday afternoon matinee at Madison Square Garden.

This matchup might not have the same sizzle as recent meetings considering both teams are under .500. However, in the sad Atlantic Division, the Celtics are the leaders and Knicks are just 2 1/2 games back.

The Knicks have won two straight for the first time all season, thanks to a road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and a home victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

The win over Orlando was the first home victory since opening night, halting a slide that spanned seven games.

"We won two in a row, we want to continue our streak and take care of Sunday against the Celtics," Carmelo Anthony said following the Magic victory.

Anthony led the Knicks with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Orlando, but it was a great all-around effort for New York. Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith each had 17 points, followed by 15 from Tim Hardaway Jr., 14 from Raymond Felton, 12 for Metta World Peace and 10 from Iman Shumpert.

The Knicks held both the Nets and Magic to 83 points, but the offense clicked in both contests. New York shot 57 percent from the field against Brooklyn and 59 percent from long range and those numbers were also good against Orlando. The Knicks shot 53 percent and 50 percent from the 3-point line.

The Celtics have taken two straight as well, both at home. They bested the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, then knocked off the Denver Nuggets, 106-98 on Friday night.

Boston built a 27-point lead against Denver, but the Nuggets cut it to three.

"It's just hard to beat a good basketball team for that long," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "The best part about tonight is things didn't always go our way and we responded and I think that that's a huge character trait of a good team, especially one that's been beaten that way earlier in the season."

Jordan Crawford led the Celtics with 22 points, but Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries both scored 18.

"He played great all night; he's done a good job for us, and again, I think that speaks to his professionalism too because this hasn't been always easy for him," Stevens said of Humphries. "But he's always been a pro about everything."

Jeff Green netted 15 and Brandon Bass added 14.

The Celtics stay in New York to play Brooklyn on Tuesday, then have five straight at home.

These two teams met in last year's Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which the Knicks won in six games.

New York has won three straight regular-season meetings and three of four between the two teams in MSG.

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