BOSTON — The short-handed New York Knicks, surrounded by the talk that Phil Jackson is about to start running the organization, continued their belated playoff push with a 116-92 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
The win, New York’s fifth in a row, moved the Knicks within three games of the idle Atlanta Hawks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
New York forward Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. came off the bench to contribute 22 points. The Knicks (26-40) went 9-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half and never trailed.
The Knicks were playing without frontcourt men Amar’e Stoudemire (day of rest), Tyson Chandler (personal), Andrea Bargnani (elbow) and Kenyon Martin (ankle), forcing them to give Cole Aldrich his first NBA start at center. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while guard J.R. Smith scored 13 points for New York, which was guilty of only eight turnovers.
Forward Jeff Green scored 17 points in the third quarter and 19 of his 27 in the second half as the Celtics (22-43) lost their second straight and fell for the ninth time in 12 games.
The Celtics were without guards Rajon Rondo (resting on the back end of a back-to-back) and Avery Bradley (ankle).
Forward Kris Humphries added 15 points for the Celtics. He has 50 points and 25 rebounds in the past three games. Guard Jerryd Bayless also scored 15, and forward Jared Sullinger had 10 points and eight rebounds for Boston.
Coming into the game, the Celtics had held their past three opponents to a combined 12-of-61 from 3-point range. The Knicks then went wild from behind the arc in the first half. That helped the visitors score 36 points in the first quarter and 68 in the half, both totals the most allowed by the Celtics in a home quarter and half since 2005 (in separate games). The 68 points matched the high against Boston this season.
New York’s lead grew to 24 points late in the half before the Celtics scored the final four points of the half and then opened the second half with a 12-4 run to show signs of life. The lead was down to nine when Green scored seven straight points, and the Celtics failed on two chances to make it closer, trailing by 10 at the end of the third.
Anthony was 5-for-8 from the floor in the first quarter and 7-for-13 in the first half before going 0-for-7 after making his first shot of the third quarter. He hit a big 3-pointer as the shot clock ran out to grow the lead back up to 18 with 7:56 left.
NOTES: F Carmelo Anthony, a potential free agent at the end of the season, said Wednesday he was told by management that Phil Jackson is coming to New York to run the basketball operation. “I don’t think it’ll have any effect on me, just as far as what I’m thinking or my decision or anything like that,” Anthony said. “I haven’t talked to Phil yet, just to get his insight on a lot of things — what’s his plan, what’s his future plan — because everything’s in his hands now.” … The New York Daily News reported that Knicks owner James Dolan asked Bill Bradley, an old friend and teammate of Jackson, to serve as an intermediary in the team’s discussions with Jackson. … Celtics G Avery Bradley, who missed his 13th straight game with an ankle sprain, is on target to return Friday night when the Celtics host the Phoenix Suns. … The Knicks return home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
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