BOSTON — Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and the New York Knicks held on after blowing most of a 26-point lead to beat the Boston Celtics 88-80 in Game 6 on Friday
night and advance in the postseason for the first time since 2000.
Iman Shumpert scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, when the Celtics cut a 75-49 deficit to four points. But Anthony made a jumper to give New York an 81-75 lead and then sank a 3-pointer, then J.R. Smith converted a three-point play to restore the double-digit lead the Knicks had nursed most of the game.
Jeff Green scored 21 points for the Celtics, who were hoping to become the first NBA team to advance in the playoffs after losing the first three games.
The Knicks had not won a playoff series since Patrick Ewing and Latrell Sprewell (and current backup center Marcus Camby) helped them reach the 2000 Eastern Conference finals. They will open the second round Sunday at home against the Indiana Pacers.
Paul Pierce scored 14 points on 4-for-18 shooting, making one of nine 3-point attempts. Kevin Garnett had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who now face another offseason of talk whether to break up the aging core that won the franchise’s record 17th NBA title in 2008 and returned to the finals two years later.
PACERS 81, HAWKS 73
ATLANTA — George Hill and David West each scored 21 points and Indiana withstood a furious Atlanta comeback in the fourth quarter, closing out the opening-round playoff series in Game 6.
The home team had won every game until the Hawks returned to Philips Arena and set a franchise record with just nine points in the second quarter on 1-of-15 shooting. The defense broke down in the third, allowing Hill and West to combine for 22 points, and the Pacers built a 65-50 lead going to the fourth.
The Hawks showed some heart, slicing it to 76-73 on Al Horford’s dunk with 2:13 remaining.
But the comeback fizzled there, and the Pacers advanced to face New York.
Roy Hibbert added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Lance Stephenson also had 11 rebounds.