These were cagey moves by KG
Everything about the last 19 seconds was a blur to Kevin Garnett.
That goes for the inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo, and the five dribbles he took to back down the Knicks’ Jared Jeffries and make the hook shot that gave the Celtics the lead.
It also goes for the pass from Carmelo Anthony that Jeffries had trouble handling, Garnett pouncing for the steal that helped seal the Celtics’ 96-93 Game 2 win over the Knicks at TD Garden.
“It’s crazy, I barely remember anything,’’ Garnett said. “I just remembered I had the steal, and at that point, I’m just reacting more than anything.’’
Garnett’s offense was spotty (12 points on 6-for-16 shooting), but in the clutch, he made two of the biggest plays of the night. The go-ahead basket came on a play the Celtics installed that morning in the walkthrough.
“KG struggled offensively, but we trust all of our guys,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “We drew up a play and it was for Kevin or Paul [Pierce]. If they tried to deny the ball to Paul, I told Rondo that means Kevin has to be open because there’s only a certain amount of bodies on the floor.’’
Garnett had tried to back Jeffries down earlier in the fourth quarter, and Jeffries poked the ball loose from behind (his only steal of the night). He didn’t want to let it happen again.
“I really wasn’t in a nice rhythm, to be honest,’’ Garnett said. “I was just taking what he was giving me. I’ve been in this situation a couple times. I think earlier he had gotten a poke, where he poked the ball from behind, and that wasn’t going to happen twice. So I just remained calm and went to a shot I know I could make.’’
Bench struggles The Celtics’ bench continued to struggle. And being outscored by the Knicks reserves, 23-14, was the least of the concerns.
When Rivers subbed Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green in for Garnett and Pierce with 3:59 left in the first quarter, the Celtics had just wrapped up an 8-2 burst. They went ahead, 23-13, when Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 left, and then the bench squandered the 10-point lead.
“Sometimes I think guys are worried about getting their points and getting the ball,’’ Pierce said. “The main focus should be on the defensive end and things will happen for them. They have to be our energy group out there, causing turnovers, rebounding. So hopefully we can get them to understand that and they’ll be better as the series goes on.’’
Amar’e Stoudemire got 3-point plays to close the first quarter by drawing fouls on Green and Glen Davis.
“Carmelo, at that point, hadn’t been scoring,’’ Rivers said. “Amar’e was physically struggling, you could see it. And the bench came in and Carmelo caught fire.’’
Seeking better way Rivers was happy with the win but was clearly upset with certain aspects of it, particularly the 24 second-chance points the Celtics allowed and the minus-16 rebounding margin.
“Because we had to go trap, we were one less guy on the glass,’’ Rivers said. “So we’ve got to figure out a better way. They were flying to the glass. They knew they didn’t have their guys and they were going for it.’’
Outside of Garnett, no Celtic had more than Davis’s six rebounds.
“It’s not that we didn’t play hard,’’ Rivers said. “We played hard. But we’ve got to play better and smarter. Hard is great. Hard and smart is much better.’’
Knicks talk to NBA The Knicks did more than complain about two non-calls in the final minute of Game 1. They sent tape of the controversial plays to the league office, according to an NBA source. The Knicks had problems with Garnett’s collision with Toney Douglas that preceded Allen’s winning 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left. And they also pointed out to the NBA that Delonte West ran onto the court after Allen’s trey to chest bump him. The Knicks wanted a technical foul for six players on the court. According to the source, the NBA admitted that Garnett’s trip of Douglas, who was chasing Allen, was a foul. West’s running onto the court would have had to have been ruled a delay of game . . . Davis finished fourth in the balloting for the NBA Sixth Man Award, which was won by Lakers forward Lamar Odom. “He’s done a nice job,’’ Rivers said. “Obviously, earlier in the year, he was really good, and I thought he kind of tapered off in the end and has been up and down.’’ Davis averaged 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds as the first man off the bench for the Celtics.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.