(Jared Jefferies with the finger roll over Al Jefferson in the 4th quarter, the former making his long awaited Knicks debut)
A wild 2nd half comeback fell short for the Knicks earlier tonight at MSG, as the Celtics had to wait until after intermission to face any semblance of defense. Stephon Marbury threw the ball away with 57 seconds remaining and New York trailing, 93-90, but the Knicks regained possesion when Paul Pierce missed a jumper that Quentin Richardson hauled in. After Isiah Thomas called his final time out, Jamal Crawford drove the lane and saw his shot rattle in and out, with Eddy Curry failing to tip the ball in. Pierce sank a pair of free throws with a few seconds left, and that was pretty much it.
Give the Knicks tremendous credit for narrowing a 30 point deficit to 3, but it’s impossible to ignore how a screwed up Celtics squad were able to build that large a margin on hostile ground. Nor can we ignore how Curry — finishing with 30 points and 12 rebounds (his 10th consecutive game with 20 or more points, Saturday and tonight being the first back to back 30 point games of his career) missed 7 free throws, most of ’em late in the game.
Lost to some extent amidst Curry’s recent improvement has been the emergence of David Lee, who compiled yet another double double (14 points, 13 rebounds). If the recent play of Curry and Lee isn’t a mirage, it’ll be tougher for Thomas to resist the considerable temptation to deal Channing Frye.
Carlos Boozer has scored 31 points in 38 minutes for Utah this evening, as Jerry Sloan is about 5 minutes away from his 1000th career coaching victory. The Jazz are blowing out the Mavs, 92-67, with Dallas’ Josh Howard and Erick Dampier running into foul trouble.
The third quarter in Orlando proved decisive for Phoenix tonight, as the Suns forced 7 Magic turnovers and outscored their hosts, 30-14, en route to a 103-89 final. The Suns have won 11 straight, and if Amare Stoudemire (shown above bullying Bo Outlaw, 30 points, 8 rebounds) isn’t all-the-way-back, well, you could’ve fooled Dwight Howard.