Knicks Edge Celtics Despite Struggles With 3-pointers and Defense

and Paul Pierce traded baskets. Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett excited the near-sellout crowd at the XL Center with dunks. And Raymond Felton and Rajon Rondo attempted to dribble past each other to get into the lane. Plus, the fans were awarded five free minutes of basketball in the Knicks’ 98-95 overtime win.

The Knicks competed well without Amar’e Stoudemire (left knee bruise), J. R. Smith (sore left ankle) and Marcus Camby (strained left calf). Carmelo Anthony (23 points) was his usual self. Chandler (16 points) finished a number of alley-oop dunks off pick-and-rolls.

Jason Kidd gave the Knicks the lead in the final minute of overtime with a long jumper. Chris Copeland secured the victory by grabbing a rebound in traffic, making two free throws with 11.3 seconds left and blocking Jamar Smith’s last-second 3-pointer, which could have sent the game into double overtime.

The Knicks were impressive in some areas and struggled in others. They rebounded well, something they didn’t do in their preseason opener against the Washington Wizards.

“It was a lot better,” Coach Mike Woodson said.

Still, their defense and shooting, at times, were not at the level they need to be if the Knicks are going to compete against elite teams, like the Celtics. Boston pounded the ball in the paint, exposing the Knicks’ interior defense without Stoudemire.

On offense, the Knicks continued to demonstrate decent ball movement. But on a number of possessions they settled for jump shots in shooting 36.7 percent. They finished the game 3 of 29 from behind the 3-point arc. On the other end of the floor, the Celtics focused on driving to the basket.

“Early on were we playing back and forth, and that happens sometimes,” Woodson said of his team’s defense. “I thought in the third and fourth quarter we played better.”

After the starters left the game, Woodson pushed his reserves to win. In the final moments, the Knicks’ bench applauded the efforts of Copeland, Pablo Prigioni and Kidd.

“They were playing so well; we were all excited over there,” Chandler said of his teammates. “They showed a lot of heart and it was only a preseason game.”

Throughout this season, the Knicks will compare themselves to the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals last year. Even if it was a preseason win, the Knicks were pleased with the way they performed against a Celtics team they will see many times in the regular season.

“They’ve owned the Atlantic Division,” Kidd said. “This is a good preseason game to see where we’re at against one of the best teams in the league.”


James White, who missed Thursday’s game with a sore right hamstring, returned to the starting lineup at shooting guard. He finished with 4 points and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes. … Mike Woodson said J. R. Smith should be back to full strength next week. … AMAR’E Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby did not travel with the team. Woodson said he was hoping that Wallace would be able to scrimmage next week as he continued to work on his conditioning. “He’s been going at it hard and he’s starting to look good,” Woodson said. “We’ll evaluate him next week and see where he is.”

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