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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celtics edge Knicks for 2-0 lead in series


BOSTON — The Boston Celtics pulled out their first two playoff games with big finishes. They want to play much better from the start next time.

News photo
Luck of the Irish: Celtics forward Paul Pierce, left, and Knicks players Carmelo Anthony (7) and Toney Douglas chase a loose ball on Tuesday in Boston. The Celtics won Game 2 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 96-93. AP

"We were lucky to win," coach Doc Rivers said after a 96-93 victory on Tuesday night over the depleted New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony's 42 points.

Kevin Garnett sank the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds left then stole the ball with 4 seconds remaining as the Knicks — without Amare Stoudemire for the second half and Chauncey Billups for the whole game — still gave the Celtics all they could handle.

"I probably (have) never been more proud of a team and how they battled the circumstances," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said, "how hard they played and how tough they played."

Billups had a strained left knee and his status for Game 3 on Friday night is uncertain. Stoudemire had back spasms but expects to be back when the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series resumes.

Anthony matched his career playoff high for points and set a new high with 17 rebounds as the Knicks held a 53-37 advantage on the boards. Toney Douglas had 14 points in place of Billups.

"The Celtics didn't do anything special," Anthony said. "They won two games on their home court. Now it's our turn to go to our home court and try to do the same thing."

Magic 88, Hawks 82

In Orlando, following their humbling Game 1 loss to Atlanta, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that if his team cut down its turnovers and played better defense, he felt like everything would be fine in Game 2.

His team only fulfilled half of that equation Tuesday night, but it was still enough to earn a victory.

Dwight Howard had 33 points and 19 rebounds and Jameer Nelson added 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Magic hold off the Hawks.

"It's not anything I did — our guys did it," Van Gundy said when asked about the adjustments he made after Game 1. "You gotta get out and take the challenge. . . . Every game sort of takes on a life of its own and you just gotta do whatever it takes to get the win on that night."

Mavericks 101 Trailblazers 89

In Dallas, the Trail Blazers must have felt like they were in an NBA time warp. First they got beaten by Jason Kidd, now Kidd and Peja Stojakovic.

Even the Mavericks are feeling the retro mood. They're up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2006.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 33 points, but was practically a complementary player. He was at his best after the 30-something, former All-Stars built the lead, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter — including the team's final 11 — to help the Mavericks keep the Trail Blazers from ever making a serious push.

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