On a night high in nostalgia, the Boston Celtics held on for dear life to a 110-106 victory over the New York Knicks.
The Celtics got off to a quick, 14-point first-half lead, but the Knicks made a quick comeback in the second quarter, tying the score in the second frame before the Celtics entered halftime with a 64-60 lead. The Knicks would eventually take a brief lead in the second half, but never kept the momentum as the Celtics were too strong down the stretch… Well, that or the Knicks were too weak. One or the other.
Eddie House, making his return to Boston after being traded away last week, was given a standing ovation and accompanying video tribute. As the crowd roared in adulation for its lost fan favorite, House blew kisses to the Boston fans. He would finish with 4 points and 5 assists for the Knicks.
But it was Bill Walker who had the biggest impact among ex-Celtics. He entered the game to minimal applause, with the weak spattering of cheers a sign that he was stuck mostly to the bench during his Boston tenure. He then spent his time on the floor showing he has the tools to become a solid player, with two vicious dunks and a three-pointer the highlights of a solid day. Fans who had been crying for Walker to play spot minutes for the past two years were validated, as Walker showed the makings of a quality player off the bench.
Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and led the Celtics with 16 assists, and Ray Allen led the team in scoring with 24 points, being guarded mostly by Sergio Rodriguez, a point guard who showed offensive skill but little to no defensive prowess. Kevin Garnett played another strong game, with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Marquis Daniels (14 points) and Kendrick Perkins (12 points) rounded out the C’s in double figures. Nate Robinson had a very unmemorable Celtics debut, entering to a rousing ovation but managing only 4 points on 2-7 shooting. Paul Pierce, ailing from a sprained right thumb and a battle with the flu, did not play.
The game was a good one for someone who likes to see buckets left and right, but a mockery for the defensive purist who likes to see defensive rotations and — gasp — heart. Neither team could stop a parade to the hoop, as most of the 48 minutes were nothing but a glorified layup line. David Lee seemed to be doing the Mikan Drill for New York, with plenty of easy opportunities sprinkling his 28 points and 15 rebounds.