BOSTON, Massachusetts – Jason Terry scored Boston’s last nine points in the final 92 seconds of overtime, lifting the Celtics over New York 97-90 Sunday to avoid a sweep in the first-round NBA playoff series.
Boston trimmed the Knicks’ lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup to 3-1 with game five on Wednesday at New York. No team in NBA history has ever rallied to win a playoff series after losing the first three games.
“The spirit and heart of a champion is what kept us going,” Terry said. “They made a great run at us. But we’re not dead yet.”
The Knicks rallied from 20 points down in the third quarter to take the lead at 84-82, only to have Kevin Garnett equalize on a jumper for Boston to send the game into overtime.
Terry, who finished with 18 points, made a 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining in the extra five-minute session that gave Boston a 91-88 lead.
Carmelo Anthony answered with an inside jumper for the Knicks but Terry hit a fadeaway baseline jumper to put Boston ahead 93-90.
Anthony missed a 3-point attempt and Terry added two free throws and a layup to boost to boost the Celtics’ final victory margin.
“These are the moments I live for,” Terry said. “It’s a long series.”
Paul Pierce lead Boston with 29 points while Jeff Green added 26 and Garnett had 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Anthony, who has never reached the second round of the NBA playoffs, had 36 points and Raymond Felton added 27 in a losing cause.
The Knicks were playing without NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, who was suspended for the game for elbowing Terry in the chin in a victory Friday.
Pierce scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first half, his late 3-pointer part of a 12-3 run to close the second quarter that gave the Celtics a 54-35 half-time lead.
But Felton scored 16 points of 5-of-8 shooting in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer in the final second to pull the Knicks within 68-65 entering the final period.
After Boston twice fought off New York runs, the Knicks pulled level at 82-82 with 3:34 remaining on a layup by Anthony, who caught fire after Boston’s Brandon Bass, who had been defending him, fouled out with 4:27 to play.
After Anthony missed two free throws, the Knicks took their only lead of regulation time at 84-82 with only 78 seconds remaining on a jumper by Felton as the Celtics went more than three minutes without scoring.
The Knicks, swept out of the playoffs by Boston in 2011, have not won a playoff series since 2000, when they ousted Toronto in the first round and Miami in the second before falling to Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.