The New York Knicks battled a hostile crowd on Friday night and ran down the Boston Celtics to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat.
Carmelo Anthony dropped in 26 points as the Knicks crushed the Celtics 90-76 Friday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the opening round of their Eastern Conference playoff series.
“It’s big any time you can go on the road and win a playoff game,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ first post-season victory away from home since 2001. “We came in believing we can win this game, and we did it. We competed 48 minutes.”
The Knicks go for the sweep Sunday and their first playoff series win in 13 seasons.
“It feels good to be sitting in the driver’s seat,” Anthony said. “We want to seal the deal Sunday. There are no ifs, ands or buts. The guys really want this. We’re hungry, and it’s in the palm of our hands.”
Anthony, however, warned a sweep won’t be easy against the proud Celtics.
“We know game 4 is win or go home for those guys,” he said. “I’ve been on that side of the pole plenty of times, so I know the feeling. I know the type of energy they’re going to come out with.”
Raymond Felton had 15 points and 10 assists for the second-seeded Knicks while JR Smith also scored 15 before getting an automatic ejection after a flagrant foul 2 midway through the fourth quarter for landing an intentional elbow in Jason Terry’s face.
The game was the first played at TD Garden since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15. Before lineup introductions, the Celtics held a moment of silence for the victims.
After the first quarter, the club honored the first responders to the bombings, who received a roaring ovation from fans wearing T-shirts that said, “Boston Strong.”
The Knicks were focused, however. They used a lockdown defense to build a 16-point halftime lead and were never challenged the rest of the way.
“Our defense set the tone early and carried us throughout the ballgame,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “... For me, it was a perfect game.”
Jeff Green had 21 points, and Paul Pierce added 17 while Kevin Garnett contributed 12 and 17 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Celtics, who shot an anemic 40 percent in the beat-down.
The Celtics look to defy the odds and become the first team in NBA history to win a series after falling into a 0-3 hole.
“They haven’t won it yet,” Green said.
San Antonio Spurs 120, LA Lakers 89: Tim Duncan had 26 points, Frenchman Tony Parker added 20, and the visiting Spurs handed the injury-depleted Lakers their worst home playoff loss in franchise history for a 3-0 lead in the first-round of their Western Conference playoff series.
The Spurs could wrap up the series in Sunday’s game 4 while the beat-up Lakers were looking to avoid their first-ever playoff defeat sweep.
Dwight Howard had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers while Spaniard Pau Gasol posted his first career playoff triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Purple and Gold played without injured guards Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks.
Golden State Warriors 110, Denver Nuggets 108: Stephen Curry had 29 points and 11 assists despite playing on a sore ankle, and Jarrett Jack scored 23 as the Warriors escaped the visiting Nuggets for a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
The Warriors erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit to lead by four when Wilson Chandler drained a left-corner triple to pull the Nuggets within 109-108 with 16.5 seconds remaining.
Golden State called a timeout with 9.4 ticks left but were whistled for a five-second violation on the next play.
With a chance to take the lead, Denver’s Ty Lawson, who finished with a playoff career-high 35 points and 10 assists, drove the right side but lost the ball out of bounds with 5.3 seconds to go.
Harrison Barnes made one of two free throws with 3.7 seconds to give the Warriors a 110-108 advantage.
Denver’s Andre Iguodala then quickly dribbled up the right side and launched a desperate mid-court heave that banged off the front of the rim as time expired.
Golden State hosts game 4 today.