The New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 118-110 on Tuesday night to give themselves some breathing room away from the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. With the win, they moved to 2.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Milwaukee Bucks, and one game ahead of the eighth-place Philadelphia 76ers with just five games now left to play.
The Knicks led by 19 points at halftime, but slowly bled that lead over the course of the second half to allow the Celtics to eventually pull within six points with just over three minutes to play on a pair of Paul Pierce free throws. That's when Steve Novak caught fire, hitting a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Knicks back up 12 and Boston at bay for good.
Novak finished with 25 points on a lights-out performance from beyond the arc. He went 8-for-10 from distance, and the Knicks went 19-for-32 as a team. Carmelo Anthony continues to play solid basketball. On Tuesday he led New York with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. J.R. Smith also chipped in 25 points, going 7-for-10 from 3-point range in another impressive shooting display on the Garden's softer rims.
Pierce turned in the Celtics' first 40-plus point performance in 501 games, finishing with 43 on 11-for-19 shooting. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo turned yet another double-double with 13 points and 13 assists. A solid offensive display wasn't enough to overcome the team's deficit on the boards, however. The Knicks out rebounded the Celtics 36 to 26 on the night.