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NBA: Knicks, Nets open playoffs with victories

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Carmelo Anthony carried his late-season scoring assault into the NBA playoffs Saturday, netting 36 points in the New York Knicks' 85-78 victory over the Boston Celtics in the opener of their first-round series.

Anthony shot 13-of-29 from the field and added a half-dozen rebounds and four steals for the Knicks, who were swept by Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs two years ago.

The Knicks weren't the only New York team to win on the first day of the post-season as the Brooklyn Nets -- in the playoffs in their first season since moving to the New York borough -- dominated the Chicago Bulls en route to a 106-89 victory.

Deron Williams scored 22 points and Brook Lopez added 21 for the Nets, who earned their first post-season win since May 16, 2007.

Joe Johnson totaled 16 points and Reggie Evans grabbed 13 rebounds for Brooklyn.

As they have done all season, the Bulls made do without star point guard Derrick Rose, who hasn't returned since tearing a knee ligament in last year's playoff opener.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose is "most likely out" for the rest of the postseason.

Without Rose and with All-Star center Joakim Noah hampered by plantar fasciitis, the Bulls offered little resistance.

Carlos Boozer had 25 points and Nate Robinson scored 17 off the bench.

For the Knicks, protecting their home court was much tougher against the Celtics, who led by as many as seven in the third quarter.

But the Knicks clamped down on defense, forcing Boston to make eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"This was a big game for us. We had to protect our home court. But we haven't done anything yet," said Anthony, vowing another victory on Tuesday when the Knicks host game two of the best-of-seven series.

New York held the Celtics to just eight points in the fourth and 25 overall in the second half. Boston shot 25.9 percent in the second half.

J.R. Smith netted 15 points, while Raymond Felton added 13 points and six assists for the Knicks who held a 10-4 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 12-6 edge in second-chance points.

New York scored 20 points off Boston's 21 turnovers in the contest.

"We kept our composure," Anthony said. "We stayed with it, corrected our mistakes and made the shots at the end."

Boston's Jeff Green scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half and Paul Pierce finished with 21 points and seven assists in the defeat.

Anthony said that even as the Knicks battle the Celtics, they and everyone in the league recognize that the city of Boston is going through a tough time in the aftermath of the deadly bombings at the Boston marathon.

The Celtics wore patches on their jerseys remembering the victims -- three dead and more than 180 injured.

"We know what Boston is going through," Anthony said. "This is the USA, one nation, one country and we've got to support each other."

Eastern Conference action continues on Sunday when the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat host Milwaukee and Indian host Atlanta.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130421/nba-knicks-nets-open-playoffs-victories