Jeff Green and the Celtics took it to the Knicks after a slow start. (AP)
NEW YORK — The Celtics are halfway home to history.
Jason Terry drilled 5-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points while Paul Pierce was 4-of-8 from long distance and added 16 as the Celtics overcame an early 11-point hole and stunned the Knicks, 92-86, Wednesday night in Game 5 at TD Garden. Game 6 is now set for Friday night at TD Garden, with the Celtics trailing, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series.
Jeff Green scored 18, Brandon Bass added 17 and Kevin Garnett hauled in 18 rebounds and hit a key jumper with under a minute left, as the Celtics became the 11th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after falling into a 3-0 hole. Only three have ever forced a Game 7 and none have ever come all the way back and won the series.
Boston finished 11-for-20 from 3-point range while the Knicks were 5-for-20 from distance.
Kenyon Martin and several Knicks arrived at Madison Square Garden wearing all black, making good on a promise to dress for what they predicted was a Celtics’ funeral. J.R. Smith, who announced the Knicks would’ve won Game 4 and swept the series if he weren’t suspended, missed his first 11 shots and picked up a double-technical with Terry midway through the fourth quarter. The game ended with a heated exchange between Jordan Crawford and Raymond Felton as the two teams walked off the court.
But early on, things couldn’t have started much worse for the Celtics. They missed their first five jumpers from the floor while the Knicks raced out to an 11-0 lead.
Bass was the only Celtics player holding things together. Bass hit his first three shots while the rest of the Celtics started 0-for-8.
Trailing 15-6, Bass’ layup started a 14-7 Celtics run to end the first quarter and Boston trailed by just two, 22-20, with Bass tallying nine points.
The Knicks were clearly frustrated and borderline shaken by Boston’s ability to fight back. Kenyon Martin picked up his third foul with 9:10 left in the second quarter when he delivered a tomahawk chop to Kevin Garnett. The call was initially ruled ‘Flagrant 1′ but was rescinded after video review.
The Knicks appeared to right the ship somewhat after that, opening a 32-26 lead on a Raymond Felton layup with 7:26 left. But the Celtics again responded with a fury. Paul Pierce hit a pair of threes that sparked a 19-7 run to end the second quarter, as Boston silenced a very nervous Madison Square Garden crowd and took a 45-39 halftime lead. Garnett was big on the glass in the first half, with nine rebounds and 10 points.
Terrence Williams was an unsung hero off the bench for the Celtics as he and Jason Terry were the only Celtics to sub in during the first half. The only bit of bad news in the second quarter came with 2:29 left when Bass picked up his third personal foul.
The Celtics continued their aggressive play early in the third as Garnett grabbed two quick rebounds in the first minute and Jeff Green gave Boston its biggest lead, 47-39 before Iman Shumpert connected on a three. 8:41 Pierce 3 52-44 7:50 dunk Chandler oop from Felton. It was Felton again at the heart of New York’s attack when his layup with 6:01 left cut Boston’s lead to two, 56-54.
But the Celtics countered. Pierce nailed a long straightaway three re-established Boston’s biggest lead, 66-58, with 3:37 left in the third. As was the case late in the second quarter, the Knicks went ice cold while Celtics got a big boost from Jason Terry. His fourth three of the night with 41.9 seconds left in the third gave Boston its biggest lead, 69-60, a lead they would take into the fourth quarter.
With just over 11 minutes left, Anthony appeared to get tangled with Garnett in the paint and came away holding his left shoulder. After a brief timeout 10:30 fallaway shot by Garnett and Celtics were up, 71-60. Two Bass free throws and a one-handed tomahawk jam by Green gave Boston its biggest lead, 75-60 with 9:04 left.
The Knicks then came to life, scoring seven straight points to cut the Celtics’ lead to 10 with 7:01 remaining. Anthony drove to the basket and was fouled. After a long timeout, he drained two free throws with 5:57 left and the lead was down to eight. Bass ended the run with a bank shot, putting Boston up, 77-67. Terry’s three with five minutes left gave Boston an 80-67 lead. Green hit a pair of huge threes, including one with 2:23 left to put Boston up, 88-76.
The Knicks scored the next seven points, capped by three from Smith with 1:05 left to cut Boston’s lead to five, 88-83. Garnett’s jumper with 48.3 put Boston ahead, 90-83.
For complete coverage from Mike Petraglia on the scene at Madison Square Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.