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First impressions: Celtics 109, Knicks 97

3/18/2010

BOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Boston Celtics posted a 109-97 triumph over the New York Knicks Wednesday night at the TD Garden:

How the game was won: Paul Pierce poured in 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting over 24 minutes as Boston built a 19-point halftime lead and coasted to its third straight breezy win on its home court -- no small task considering the Celtics' struggles here this season. Kevin Garnett scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half and finished 9-of-11 shooting over 24 minutes. Kendrick Perkins added 9 points and 12 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo chipped in 5 points and 12 assists.

Turning point: Garnett kick-started a brief 9-1 run with a dunk off a feed from Rondo and Boston's four-point advantage ballooned to a 12-point cushion on Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 5:32 to play in the first quarter. The Knicks wouldn't get closer than seven the rest of the way, and even then the Celtics' starters quickly pushed the lead back to double figures late in the second period.

Stat of the game: Pierce's plus-11 was the lowest among the starters (due in part to early foul trouble that sidelined him little more than a minute in). He made up for lost time in a hurry. Perkins and Allen were both a team-best plus-24.

Unsung hero: Marquis Daniels continues to improve his recent play, pacing the bench with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting with three rebounds, an assist and a steal over 20 minutes.

What it means: Boston builds a little more momentum heading into a challenging road trip that features stops in Houston, Dallas and Utah, while playing a host of Western Conference opponents. After really struggling at the Garden this season (20-12 entering last night's game), the Celtics have now won three straight here, and in decisive fashion. Boston still needs to show it can hang with quality opponents, but wins are wins when you're battling for playoff position.