Celtics Top Knicks to Spoil Harvard Grad Lin’s Return to Boston

It took the just five minutes to puncture the hype balloon and present a healthy reminder of the distances the Knicks still must travel to consider themselves contenders.

On a raucous afternoon at TD Garden, the Celtics muted Jeremy Lin, withstood Carmelo Anthony and — as they have so often done — converted the most critical plays, dealing the Knicks a 115-111 overtime defeat.

Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer that forced overtime, then handed off to Ray Allen, who scored 5 straight points to give Boston the lead for good. Along the way, Rajon Rondo made modern statistical history, with 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds — the ’s gaudiest triple-double since Magic Johnson had 24, 17 and 17 in 1989.

Although the details were different, the result felt a lot like the Knicks defeat here Feb. 3, and the playoff losses they sustained here last spring. The Celtics (19-17), for all of their struggles, remain the model for what the Knicks hope to become by the end of April.

“We will,” Anthony said after scoring 25 points. “That takes time. That takes time. They’ve been through the wringer long enough. They’ve been around long enough to know how to close out games. That’s something that we can take from that.”

Anthony and Pierce dueled all afternoon, until Pierce hit the shot that mattered most — a 3-pointer that tied the game at 103-103 with 4.9 seconds left in regulation. Anthony had a chance to win the game but missed a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer, then missed all four shots he took in overtime.

But the Knicks (18-19) were mostly undermined by careless play, including 22 turnovers, as they lost for the 11th straight time in Boston.

“We always play them tough,” Anthony said. “It’s just some little things that we have to get better at.”

The game presented a sentimental moment for Lin, as well as a difficult challenge. He starred nearby at Harvard, and his former coach Tommy Amaker and the university president, Drew Galpin Faust, were in the crowd. But Rondo hounded Lin with his length, and the Celtics kept throwing extra bodies in his path.

Lin finished with 14 points, 5 assists and 6 turnovers, his second-worst game as a starter. He was 1 for 7 in overtime and 6 for 16 over all, alternately hearing boos from Celtics fans and light cheers from pockets of supporters. The Celtics, like the Miami Heat two weeks ago, were determined not to let the N.B.A.’s newest star beat them.

“Definitely a target,” Lin said, “but I think that’s fine, because I think we have such a well-rounded team. It’s just going to take time. It’s my, whatever, 11th, 12th game, 13th, I don’t really know. Early on, so I’m learning a lot and absorbing information right now.”

Coach Mike D’Antoni lifted Lin for defensive purposes twice in the last 30 seconds of regulation. Still, he stuck with Lin through most of the fourth quarter and overtime despite his struggles, using him over the more seasoned Baron Davis. Davis also had a mixed game, with 8 points, 7 assists and 6 turnovers.

Sticking with Lin nearly paid off as the Knicks came back from a 15-point deficit in the second half. Lin scored 6 straight points late in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 96-95. Anthony took over from there, scoring 6 straight points for a 101-100 lead with 35.4 seconds to play. Steve Novak added two free throws for a 3-point lead. Then Pierce did what Pierce does, raising up for an off-balance 3-pointer over Iman Shumpert.

“The thing about Jeremy, he’s going to make some mistakes, and he’s got a learning curve,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no way you can throw him in here, the first time he ever does it, and expect it to be perfect. But he finds a way to be very positive at the end of games.”

D’Antoni did not rule out using Davis to close out a game but said, “I’m comfortable going with Jeremy.”

REBOUNDS

Bill Walker will have surgery on his left elbow on Monday and is expected to miss four to six weeks, possibly wiping out the rest of the regular season. He could be available for the playoffs. Walker was a rotation player for the first 30 games of the season, but he had been squeezed out by the additions of J. R. Smith and Baron Davis and the emergence of Steve Novak. “It’d have been tough,” Mike D’Antoni said Sunday of finding a role for Walker. “But for sure if he’s hurt and not playing well, then there’s no way.” … Tyson Chandler is wearing a protective brace on his injured left wrist, which continues to bother him two weeks after falling on it. “I think it’s something that he’s going to have to live with for a month, two months,” D’Antoni said. … The Knicks plan to recall Jerome Jordan from the Development League on Saturday after their four-game trip. Jordan was sent to the Knicks’ affiliate in Erie, Pa., on Friday. …The Knicks’ last victory here was on Nov. 24, 2006, behind 22 points from Steve Francis and 21 points and 10 rebounds from Eddy Curry. The next summer, Boston acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. “They’ve been the best, and they’re smart,” D’Antoni said, adding, “We’ve been young and dumb and we haven’t done it.”

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Rondo’s Triple-Double Leads Celtics Over Wizards

The victory was the Celtics’ second straight after losing their first three. Washington is 0-4. After losing their opener by six to New Jersey, the Wizards have lost the last three by 47 points.

The Celtics took the lead in the first three minutes and increased the margin to 19 points. Boston led by at least seven throughout the second half.

Washington, which lost five straight to open the 2008-09 season, could match that start Monday in Boston when the teams play again.

John Wall, who was 10 for 37 from the field in Washington’s first three games, was 6-for-13. He had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

JaVale McGee had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards. Nick Young had 18.

The Celtics took a 30-17 lead early in the second quarter. Paul Pierce, in his second game since returning from a bruised right heel, played the first nine minutes — a few more than coach Doc Rivers envisioned. Rivers previously said he was more worried about Pierce’s conditioning than the heel.

Pierce, who had 12 points in 23 minutes on Friday night, had nine in 28.

After the Wizards cut the deficit to 32-25, Boston went on a 12-2 run to take a 44-27 lead with 3:45 left in the second quarter.

The Celtics led at halftime 51-34. Boston nearly doubled Washington’s shooting percentage in the first half — the Celtics shot 55.6 percent, the Wizards 28.2 percent. Washington missed all nine of its 3-point attempts in the half and finished 2 of 16.

Washington scored seven straight points to cut Boston’s lead to 65-58 with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter, but the Celtics led 73-60 after three.

NOTES: Washington C/F Ronny Turiaf left the game in the third quarter with an injury to his left hand. … Boston played without F/C Chris Wilcox (bruised left shoulder). Rivers said there was a good chance Wilcox would play on Monday night. … Washington assigned C Hamady Ndiaye to Iowa of the NBA D-League. … When Roger Mason checked into the game for the Wizards in the second quarter, the crowd murmured. Mason’s name was inadvertently omitted from the eligible list for Friday’s game in Milwaukee — resulting in Mason’s disqualification.

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Heat Hang On to Top Celtics After Nearly Losing 20-Point Lead

Dwyane Wade finished with 24 points and 8 assists for Miami, which got 18 points from Chris Bosh and twice saw its lead cut to 3 in the final minutes. Cole delivered the answer both times with a pair of jump shots, and the Heat escaped.

Ray Allen scored 28 points on 8-for-12 shooting for the Celtics, while Rajon Rondo finished with 22 points and 12 assists and Keyon Dooling scored 18 off the Boston bench.

Through two games, Miami (2-0) has trailed only once — by 2 points, for all of 14 seconds. The loss was Boston’s second straight, after falling in the season opener to the Knicks, 106-104, on Sunday.

Cole’s jumper with 3 minutes 1 second left gave Miami a 108-98 lead, most of which disappeared in the next 59 seconds, thanks to Dooling — a former Heat guard. He scored 7 straight points, including a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining, cutting the Heat’s lead to 3. And when Boston got a stop on the next Miami trip, the Celtics looked for Dooling again.

But Wade stepped in front of a pass intended for Dooling, starting a play where James found Cole for another jumper, and Miami’s cushion was back to 110-105 with 1:31 to play.

And with a minute left, it was Cole again, with the biggest shot of the night for Miami. James set him up from the top of the key for another jumper, restoring the 5-point edge. When Cole stepped to the foul line to close the scoring, he got “M-V-P” chants from the Miami crowd, something typically reserved for the likes of Wade, James and Bosh.

Boston was again without forward Paul Pierce (bruised right heel), who worked out Monday and Tuesday and is getting closer to a return. BUCKS 98, TIMBERWOLVES 95 The rookie Jon Leuer converted a 3-point play with 1:17 left, helping Milwaukee hold off Minnesota and give the Bucks a victory in their home opener.

Brandon Jennings scored 24 points and Stephen Jackson added 16 for the Bucks, who were playing without forward Drew Gooden because of a suspension and several other key players because of injuries. Gooden was suspended for Tuesday’s game for his flagrant foul in the season opener, when he was ejected in the third quarter Monday for slamming the Houston Rockets’ Gerald Henderson on the head with his arm as he attempted a driving layup.

Kevin Love had 31 points and 20 rebounds for the Timberwolves, whose late rally came up just short.

Minnesota was without Coach Rick Adelman, who was attending funeral services for his mother-in-law. Assistant Terry Porter, a former head coach in Milwaukee, filled in for Adelman.

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