Celtics stay alive, beat Knicks to force Game 6

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NEW YORK (AP) — The 11-0 deficit in Game 5 was wiped away. The 3-0 deficit in the series might be next.

The Boston Celtics are two victories from NBA history, and from extending the Knicks’ postseason futility in a most improbable manner.

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds and the Celtics stayed alive in the playoffs, cutting New York’s lead to 3-2 with a 92-86 victory Wednesday night.

The Celtics will host Game 6 on Friday night, needing two wins to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

“Our mentality has been like a Game 7 mentality. It’s an all-out mentality. One that is no tomorrow. Period. Point blank,” Garnett said. “We put ourselves in this 3-0 position and now we’re just trying to fight our way out of it.”

Brandon Bass added 17 points, steadying Boston as it shook off an 11-0 deficit and pulled away in the second half to stop the Knicks again from achieving their first playoff series victory since 2000.

“That shows you how resilient we are. Down 11-0, it could have been easy to say, ‘All right fellas, hey, we made a great effort but it just wasn’t good enough,’” reserve Jason Terry said. “We know we’re just starting to jell as a team and injuries have plagued us all season long, but in this series it’s all about heart, who is willing to go out there every night, every possession and leave it all out there. If that’s not good enough, then we’ll be going home.”

J.R. Smith, back from his one-game suspension for elbowing Terry with the Knicks way ahead late in Game 3, missed his first 10 shots and finished 3 of 14 for 14 points.

Jeff Green scored 18 points and Paul Pierce had 16 as he and Garnett, the two franchise stalwarts, extended this season — and perhaps their Celtics careers — at least one more game.

“Obviously being down 2-0 or 3-0 or whatever it was, we could have folded shop. Nobody in here is going to quit,” said Terry, who scored 17.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8 of 24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks, who blew a big lead in this game and now the series. They face an unwanted trip back to Boston instead of the rest this aging roster could surely use before the second round.

If they get there.

“I think we’re fine,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “Sure we would’ve loved to close it out and move on, but nobody said it would be easy.”

The Knicks would host Game 7 on Sunday.

“I told you from Game 1 that this wasn’t going to be a breeze, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, them guys were going to fight and they’re showing some fight right now,” Anthony said. “They threw a couple punches at us now and it’s time for us to do the same.”

The Celtics were the first of the eight NBA teams that have come from 3-1 down, beating Philadelphia in 1968, and put themselves on the short list of teams that have erased a 2-0 deficit the next year in the NBA Finals.

PACERS 106, HAWKS 83 INDIANAPOLIS — David West scored 24 points and Paul George had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Indiana to a 3-2 series lead.

The Pacers have all won three home games in the best-of-seven series and are 5-0 at home this season against the Hawks. They’ll go to Atlanta on Friday with a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series. But the Hawks have won 13 straight at home against the Pacers, including both games in this series.

Atlanta was led by Josh Smith and Al Horford, who each had 14 points. And it was every bit as ugly as the Hawks’ first two double-digit losses in Indy.

ROCKETS 107, THUNDER 100 OKLAHOMA CITY — James Harden scored 31 points and sank seven 3-pointers while fighting through flu-like symptoms, and the Rockets beat the Thunder to pull within 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.

Harden made the first seven 3s he tried and Houston led by as many as 16 before fending off a rally that Oklahoma City helped stymie with its own strategy.

The Thunder, apparently doubting they could overcome an eight-point lead on their home court without Russell Westbrook, resorted to intentionally fouling Omer Asik — a 54 percent career foul shooter — with 5:33 to play. Asik went 8 for 12 from the line, extending Houston’s lead to 101-92 with 3:53 remaining before Oklahoma City gave up the tactic.

Kevin Durant finished with 36 points for Oklahoma City, which must now travel to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night.

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