NEW YORK — Kevin Garnett finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds and Jason Terry had 17 points as the Boston Celtics staved off elimination with a 92-86 win over New York in game five Wednesday.
Paul Pierce scored 16 points and Terry went five-of-nine from beyond the arc for the Celtics, who now trail in the best-of-seven first round playoff series three games to two.
“We have got the heart of a champion,” Terry said. “We are not going to lay down. Every game is a game seven for us. What do we really have to lose?”
Like Terry, Jeff Green hit a couple of big three-pointers in the fourth quarter and tallied 18 points, while Brandon Bass scored 17 for the Celtics who got off a wobbly start by giving up the first 11 points of game five.
Boston now hopes to make history but they will have their work cut out as no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 hole to win a best-of-seven series.
Game six is set for Friday in Boston.
After their sluggish start, the Celtics got their act together, making half of their 22 three-point tries and nailing all 17 of their free throws.
“In games one, two, three and four we always had one quarter that set us back. We talked before this game about winning every quarter,” Terry said.
Terry vowed to have a bigger say in the outcome of this series.
“I am a 14-year veteran. If you don’t know who I am by now you will by the end of this,” he said.
New York’s J.R. Smith struggled in his return to the lineup with 14 points on just three-of-14 shooting from the field.
Smith served a one-game ban in game four for throwing an elbow at Terry. He missed his first 11 shots of Wednesday’s contest at Madison Square Garden.
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony went eight-of-24 from the field for 22 points and missed all five of his three-point shot attempts.
Smith sank three three-pointers late in the fourth, the second of which got New York to within 88-83 with just over a minute left on the clock.
But then Garnett nailed a jump shot from just past the free-throw line with 48 seconds left to seal the outcome.
Boston’s Jordan Crawford and New York’s Raymond Felton exchanged words and had to be separated at midcourt at the final buzzer.
The Celtics, who swept New York in the first round two seasons ago, have now won just twice in their last six visits to Madison Square Garden.
Boston still haven’t scored 100 points in a game in the first five games of this series, but they haven’t allowed 100 either.