The trademark of a great shooter is that they keep launching shots when they’re struggling – because sooner or later they’re going to hit one and break out of the funk.
New York Knicks’ guard J.R. Smith broke out of his just in time to nail down a 89-86 win over the host Boston Celtics at TD Garden Thursday night.
Smith got the ball on the right wing with just over a minute to play and his team leading by a slender two points, and didn’t hesitate to shoot the three pointer. To that point he had missed 13 of the 15 shots he had put up, but nailed the trey and spoiled Celtics’ point Guard Rajon Rondo’s triple-double.
Rondo notched his 27th career triple-double by scoring 23 points, dishing out 11 helpers and hauling down 10 rebounds. He got a little help from Paul Pierce who scored 22 points in briefly breaking out of his week-long scoring slump with 19 in the first half – but returning to his recent brick-ish ways in the second half hitting just 6 of 15, including an abysmal 1 for 5 from the parking lot.
Rondo and Pierce were the only Celtics scoring in double figures, while Garnett joined Rondo in double figure rebounds with 12 to go with his modest 8 points.
Carmello Anthony started slowly, but got warm in the second half. Anthony scored a game high 28 points and pulled down 9 boards and Amare Stoudemire threw in 15 points and also pulled down 9 boards. Smith ended up with six rebounds to go with his 9 points, three of those on the shot that buried the Celtics.
Trailing by 10 with a little over 5 minutes left in regulation, Rajon Rondo hit consecutive baskets on the back end of a 10-2 Boston Celtics run to get the Green within a bucket, but Avery Bradley missed a go-ahead 3 point opportunity and Garnett bricked a short jumper before Smith took a pass at the right wing and launched the three-point dagger that sealed the win.
Their fifth consecutive loss drops Boston to 20-22 on the season, a full seven games behind the Atlantic Division leading Knicks, who won for just the third time in seven tries and are now a full game up on the second place Brooklyn Nets.
New York now makes the short trip to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers on Saturday night before returning home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday while the Celtics boarded a plane for Atlanta immediately following tonight’s loss for a date with the Hawks on Friday night, then returning home to host the Miami Heat in a Sunday matinee.
The Celtics have played tough, down to the wire games in their past two contests, but need to find a way to finish teams off…and if they don’t figure out a way soon, they’re going to find themselves in a hole too deep to climb out of.