Tuesday night in New York, the Boston Celtics visited the Knicks in Madison Square Garden and left with a loss. The highlights of the evening were the scoring of Danilo Gallinari, the fantastic play of Earl Barron, and the amazing, electric atmosphere in MSG.
Although the Knicks leading scorer was Gallinari, who shot 10-of-15, and hit 10-of-11 free throws for 31 points and five rebounds, the real surprise of the evening came from Barron, a random free agent center the Knicks recently picked up to help them close out the season.
Starting alongside David Lee, Barron was fantastic, shooting 8-of-13 for 17 points and 18 rebounds in over 44 minutes of play. There was no reason to consider taking Barron out. He constantly set screens, moved without the ball, created passing lanes, and helped the team virtually every minute he was on the floor.
Barron is auditioning for a real NBA contract, but yesterday’s play showed he belongs on a roster. He showed a high basketball IQ in almost everything he did.
The Knicks can also be proud of their fans and home arena. The Garden was simply electric. And in the 4th quarter, as it became apparent the Knicks really might win, fans were going bonkers. Fans gave up home long ago that the team would make the playoffs. Yet they continue to pack MSG and provide very loud support.
For the Celtics, no one really stepped up. They were led by Ray Allen’s 17 points (6-of-9), but the shooting guard had no rebounds and just one assist. Kendrick Perkins (6-of-8) had 14 points and eight rebounds. Kevin Garnett was disappointing with 14 points on 12 shots, just four rebounds and four assists. Paul Pierce was underwhelming as well, with 13 points on 10 shots, six rebounds and more turnovers than assists. Rajon Rondo had just six points and six assists.
The bright spots for the Celtics were 54.8% shooting, and the fact that they almost won despite almost everyone on the roster having an off night.
To keep perspective, Boston is mainly focused on staying healthy for the playoffs, while New York will miss the post-season and has a roster is filled with players who will be free agent this summer.
But fans in Madison Square Garden last night enjoyed a real thrill.