Celtics vs. Knicks felt like not just a big game, but a priority. This was appointment viewing after the trash-talk episode that landed the last Celtics-Knicks game on the front page of every sports page in the country. It’s the kind of episode that we don’t really need to rehash but safe to say it required Carmelo Anthony to bring a personal bodyguard Thursday, the NBA to assign Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford as refs to clamp down on any funny business and for Boston crowd control to take out any fans’ sign with a Honey Nut Cheerios reference on it. Just like his 6-of-26 night against KG and the Celtics the last time they met, Carmelo was a bricklayer early with 13 points but on 13 shots (he’d finish with 28 points on 28 shots). Paul Pierce, on the other hand, put down 19 points in the first half and made it seem like he’d heard about being left off the All-Star team before the game. And then something switched â€” ‘Melo hit 4-of-6 shots in one third-quarter stretch, even helped Kevin Garnett up when he fell down at one point (peace in the Middle East seemed like it would happen faster than those two reconciling at one point in the last two weeks). And instead of the Celtics winning a 12th-straight game against the Knicks at home, New York walked out with an 89-86 win after Anthony found J.R. Smith (9 points on a brutal 3-of-16 night) for a clutch three, which was followed by a turnover by Pierce with seven seconds left. The Celtics never led in the fourth quarter. We can’t omit Rajon Rondo‘s fourth triple-double of the season with 23 points, 11 dimes and 10 boards. … All-Star reserves were announced before tipoff in Boston, and there were some notable names who are deserving of saying they got robbed. Brook Lopez and Stephen Curry are chief among them. Whose spots would they have taken, though? Lopez over Bosh, or Curry over James Harden or teammate David Lee? … Hit the jump to hear about the crazy shot to beat Orlando …
DeMar DeRozan finished off the Magic, 97-95, with a game-winner that had a 10.0 degree of difficulty. It was the kind of shot that makes you say “no no no no … YES!” if you’re a Raps fan. Truly, it was a bad play call, because why else do you have DeRozan take a pass running away from the passer and toward the opposite bench, then loft a 20-footer over both Arron Afflalo AND Big Baby Davis? Whatever — it went in for his 22nd point (10-of-17 shooting) and a huge sigh of relief for a team that’s had six games end within three points this season and three losses come in overtime in their last four. … Terrence Ross (10 points) is easy to love for his playmaking, and he hit a couple nice jumpers in the fourth quarter with six minutes and about 4:30 left to get the Raptors within one and then take the lead (we will, however, take issue that they were both long twos, just a foot from being threes if he stepped back). His defense on J.J. Redick (4-of-11 shooting, 14 points) was also crucial late, especially because both teams went small most the game and needed those perimeter points. At one point it was Big Baby Davis, Amir Johnson and eight guards just running around the perimeter. Give Redick an inch and he can flush it, though. Ross crept over to help against an Afflalo drive at the top of the arc with 53 seconds and J.J. not only hit the three, he made the free throw on the and-one to tie. Each team traded buckets to tie it up again with 20 seconds left before DeRozan’s buzzer-beater. … We didn’t think we’d ever say this, but the Johnson-Nikola Vucevic matchup was something we were seriously looking forward to watching. Vuc had 19 points and 14 boards, with zero turnovers, and Johnson finished with 21 and 10. … You don’t always have to be perfect in the NBA, just smart. Alan Anderson qualifies. Dude was 2-for-10 from range in the fourth quarter and OT against Miami on Wednesday, but he made it a point to get to the rim instead of jacking up long balls Thursday. All four of his field goals were within 14 feet or less for 13 points. … The Clippers are still quite good without Chris Paul but, let’s face it, their 93-88 loss to Phoenix wouldn’t have happened had Paul’s knee been healthy enough for him to play. Credit goes to the Suns, though, for pressuring L.A. and answering each Jamal Crawford jumper (21 points off the bench) with a drive by Goran Dragic (24 points) to draw free throws or draw the defense in for a kick-out dime. The Clips couldn’t shoot at all, just 40 percent on the night, but that’s going to happen a few times in a season. No reason to be worried. … It was a nice win for interim Phoenix coach Lindsey Hunter, now 2-0, after the back-and-forth between Suns management and former coach Alvin Gentry’s longtime assistants this week. Dan Majerle and Elston Turner have both blasted the move to go to Hunter after saying they’d been promised a head job there had Gentry been canned. Instead they were passed over and they have both left the team and let everyone know why they’re unhappy about it. … We’re out like confiscated Honey Nut Cheerios signs.
Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook