On a night in which he learned that he would not make the All-Star Game for the first time in five consecutive years and only the second time in the past twelve, Paul Pierce started the game with that familiar chunk of rock on his shoulder, carrying the Celtics against the Knicks with 19 first quarter points. Unfortunately, he would only score three more points, ending the game with 22 and two critical kick-aways in the final minutes during which the Celtics were desperately trying to score a basket to tie what had once been a 10-point Knick lead.
Of course, it's a team game and Pierce -- who almost ALWAYS shows up large for anything related to the Knicks -- did more help than harm for his band-members but it just wasn't enough against a controversy-free Carmelo Anthony, who scored 28 points on 11-28 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Even another triple-double (his 4th of the season) from a never-say-die Rajon Rondo (23 points on 10-19 shooting, 11 assists, 10 boards and 3 steals) couldn't seal the deal in a nail-biter, mainly because no other Celtic could crack double figures. Kevin Garnett, struggled on offense with only 8 points but managed to pull down a gritty 12 rebounds with 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Other than that? Get the team a Waaaah!-mbulance (thanks Modern Family!).
The C's now slump to the end of January toting a 6-6 record for the month with Atlanta, Miami and Sacramento on the horizon to either throw us over the edge, or signal another resurgence.
Am I counting the Celtics out? Hardly. The effort they gave tonight was hampered primarily by their inability to find any open banks willing to let the Celtics use their credit to purchase even a small handful of baskets (though they shot better than the Knicks for the whole of the game, finishing at 40.8% to New York's 38.6%).
It's coming, C's fans. As Boston's own Mark Wahlberg once told us as he lounged with his own team, The Funky Bunch -- back before he was an A-List HollyCeleb -- and rocked the moniker "Marky-Mark"...
Tale Of The Tape