NEW YORK — The Boston Celtics starters were ready for a leisurely fourth quarter on the bench after building a 25-point lead over the New York Knicks after three quarters Monday night.
But they soon returned as the winless Knicks shot 59% from the field in the fourth quarter and mounted a rally that got them as close as seven points before the undefeated Celtics settled for a 96-87 win.
"We started playing like it was garbage time, only the Knicks didn't know it," Celtic Coach K.C. Jones said. "They started hitting some shots and we got sloppy, so they got back in it. We never really got it back together."
Danny Ainge scored 21 points and Robert Parish had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who held off the Knicks before 19,591 fans at Madison Square Garden, the third sellout in 19 home-opening games.