NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winning free throws with 16 seconds remaining and the New York Knicks held off the Boston Celtics, 106-104, in a thrilling season opener at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day.
"I thought we played well," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought we were as soft as we could be in the first quarter, and the I thought we joined into the 2011-12 season. And from that point on I was pretty happy with the way we played, I thought we compete well."
Kevin Garnett, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, missed the potential game-tying two as time expired. Boston (0-1) made 39-of-76 shots from the field to shoot 51.3 percent after shooting under 40 percent in the first quarter. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 31 points, 13 assists and five steals while Brandon Bass had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"We want him to be aggressive," Rivers said of Rondo. "The best part of the game for us I thought Rondo just attacked the basket. This is the Rondo we want."
Said Rivers on Bass, "Kid can play. He's tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things."
Anthony led all scorers with 37 points on 10-of-17 shooting and also had eight rebounds for New York (1-0), which made 35-of-74 field goals to shoot 47.3 for the game. Amare Stoudemire added 21 points and six rebounds for the Knicks.
Boston fell behind 34-32 after one quarter but outscored New York, 29-28, in the second quarter to keep the deficit at ten points, 62-52, at halftime. The Celtics used a 17-6 run in the second quarter to tie the game at 69 before pulling ahead, 87-79, at the end of the third quarter. New Your outscored Boston, 27-17, in the fourth to capture the win.
Boston returns to action on Tuesday when it faces the Miami Heat in Florida.