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Celtics 115, Knicks 111 (OT): Paul Pierce, C's Win Overtime Thriller

BOSTON - Paul Pierce (34 points, seven rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (18 points, 20 assists, 17 rebounds) fueled the Boston Celtics for the second straight game, leading the C's past Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks, 115-111, in overtime on Sunday afternoon.

"It's big," Pierce said afterwards. "Especially you know we've got these home games, we've got to start playing better at home, and we have a huge road trip coming up so we have to take advantage of these home games right now before we go on this two week road trip."

Rondo's triple-double was his fourth of the season and 17th of his career (11 in regular season). It was the first triple-double in the NBA with at least 17 in each category (points, assists, rebounds) since Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers did so with 24 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds on April 18, 1989. In addition, it was the first time a player has had a triple-double with at least 18 points, at least 17 rebounds and at least 20 assists since Wilt Chamberlain had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists on February 2, 1968.

"It was a big win for us," Rondo said. "I think we were tied at the eighth seed, or seventh seed, but we tried to get a little separation tonight with a good win against a good team."

"You know he really stepped up," Pierce said about Rondo. "That's the Rondo we like to see, playing with all that energy, he got guys the ball in the open shots. He did everything for us tonight. He rebounded, he passed, he got the clutch rebound there in overtime and got the layup. That's the Rondo I like to see."

Jeremy Lin, of course, was the main attraction for a packed Garden crowd, but he struggled through the first three quarters, scoring only six points while picking up three fouls. Lin picked up his play in the fourth and finished with 14 points and five assists.

"The difference I think today, I was a little more comfortable but still not where I want to get to," said Lin. "Obviously Boston is a very good defensive team and hopefully as I play them a couple more times I'll get comfortable."

"The thing about Jeremy is that he's going to make some mistakes, he's got a learning curve" said Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni. "There's no way you can throw him in here first time he ever does it and expect it to be perfect, but he finds a way to be very positive in the end of games, hit the big three and a couple of other shots. It was good and he's going to be good. Just a matter of going through some learning experiences, but I thought overall he's good."

Pierce helped the Celtics get off to another fast start, scoring 10 in the opening quarter. New York scored the first five points, but Boston answered with a 12-0 run and stretched its lead to 21-12 after a three from Mickael Pietrus (five points).

The Knicks closed the gap to two points, 29-27, at the end of the first and used an 8-0 run early in the second to capture a 48-38 advantage. Another run from the Celtics brought the game within five, 56-51, at the intermission.

Pierce, who was held scoreless in the second period, went off for 15 points in the third to help Boston capture an 80-65 advantage late in the third, but the Knicks' scored the last seven in the quarter to make it an 80-62 game heading into the fourth.

Once again, Pierce was held scoreless for most of the final quarter, not scoring until the midway point.

Lin helped lead the Knicks back, scoring six in the fourth and trimming the Celtics lead to 96-95 after a corner three with 2:07 to play.

Carmelo Anthony and Pierce traded clutch hoops in the final minute, with a Melo driving layup past Pierce to put New York up 101-100 with 35.4 seconds left.

Pierce missed the potential go-ahead fading jumper with 20 seconds to go, and New York grabbed the rebound. The captain would redeem himself, though, nailing a leaning three with 4.9 ticks left to tie the game at 103. Anthony missed a jumper as tied expired, forcing overtime.

"It felt really good," Pierce said about the three. "But every shot I take I feel good about."

Both teams traded quick buckets to start the extra period, but Ray Allen made a clutch three and a layup on a pass from Rondo, his 20th assist, to put Boston on top, 110-105, with 3:13 remaining.

Rondo's all-around play helped the Celtics outlast the Knicks in the final minutes, as a Rondo free throw with roughly 10 ticks left (plus two Brandon Bass free throws) put Boston up 115-109.

Allen scored 12 in his return and Bass, who started again in place of an injured Jermaine O'Neal, finished with 18 points, 12 of which he scored in the first half. Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"I just thought we came out and got in a really nice rhythm, [then] they made a run" said Garnett. "For the most part of the second half, I thought we did well. I thought Paul played really, really well throughout the game."

Anthony led the Knicks with 25 points and Amar'e Stoudemire scored 16 and had 13 boards. Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak each scored 14 off the bench for New York.

"Give them credit," said D'Antoni. "Give Paul Pierce credit for hitting that big shot of the game, the last one. With our chances to win we just didn't quite do it. We were a little bit up and down with our energy which we've got to correct. Overall I thought we played pretty well, just too many turnovers and just didn't finish it up."

Boston will have Monday off before resuming play on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets inside TD Garden in their second-to-last home game before their West coast swing.

Final - 3.4.2012 1 2 3 4 OT 1 Total
New York Knicks 29 27 16 31 8 111
Boston Celtics 27 24 29 23 12 115

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