BOSTON — Jason Terry’s nose still hurt. He wasn’t about to let his pride suffer as well.
Two days after being smacked by J.R. Smith’s elbow, the guard the Boston Celtics count on for his shooting scored their last nine points and kept their season going.
The Celtics beat the Knicks 97-90 in overtime on Sunday to avoid a first-round sweep and force a fifth game in New York on Wednesday night. Avoiding elimination provided all the motivation Terry needed.
“It wasn’t really the elbow,” he said. “It was more (like) this is it. I mean, the season’s over. You can leave it all out here tonight and go home for a long summer or you can live to play another day.”
But, he conceded, his nose “still hurts right now. As long as I feel that, I guess I’ll be thinking about it.”
The NBA suspended Smith for the game, and the Knicks could have used his shooting. Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points and Raymond Felton picked up the slack with 27, but New York made just 28.9 per cent of its shots in the first half as Boston took a 54-35 lead.
“J.R. is a big piece of what we do, but he wasn’t here,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, “so I’m not using that as an excuse.”
New York had tied the game 84-84 after trailing by 20 points early in the third quarter.
It was 88-all before the Celtics regained control and took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Terry. Anthony hit a short jumper, but Terry connected on a 15-footer with 50 seconds remaining for a 93-90 lead.
After Anthony, who shot 10 for 35 for the game, missed a 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go, Terry was fouled by Steve Novak and made both free throws. He added a layup to close out the game.
But the Celtics still have a huge deficit in trying to become the first team to win after trailing a series 3-0 in the NBA playoffs. The Knicks are trying to win their first playoff series in 13 years.
“We have to be confident going back home,” Anthony said. “We were confident here today.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 29 points, Jeff Green added 26 and Terry finished with 18.
With leaders such as Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics have “tremendous” pride, Terry said. “Getting swept is something that no man that’s been in this league that long wants to do. It’s disheartening.
“Now we have to go into a hostile environment and they’re going to be trying to get it over with. They don’t want to come back here, but we do.”
The Celtics showed renewed energy early after being held below 80 points in each of the first three games. They led 59-39 three minutes into the third quarter before their recent second-half woes returned.
In previous first halves, they scored just 25 points in Game 1 and 23 in Game 2. On Sunday, they were outscored 30-14 in the third quarter and led just 68-65 heading into the fourth.
“Good teams are going to make those runs,” said Garnett, who had 13 points, 17 rebounds and six assists for Boston. “It’s deflating, but we kept fighting. We found a way to get over the hump.”
Boston held a 65-51 lead when Anthony went to the bench with 3:35 remaining.
The Knicks outscored the Celtics 14-3 the rest of the way behind 11 points from Felton and a 3-pointer from Iman Shumpert. Felton finished with 16 points in the quarter.
“He was huge in this game for us,” Kenyon Martin said. “Especially missing J.R., we needed someone else to make shots for us and he did that.”
The Knicks played the first half as if they had taken shooting lessons from the Celtics. New York hit just 11 of 38 shots in the half after Boston made only 39.5 per cent of its total attempts in the first three games.
The Celtics found their range from the start and connected on 51.3 per cent (20 for 39) in the half.
“We established our defence and we made shots,” Pierce said. “I thought it really gave us confidence when we got out to the fast start because our offence has really been struggling.”