Anthony leads Knicks to series-clinching 88-80 win over Celtics

U.S. Sports Desk, May 4 (EFE).- The New York Knicks nearly suffered a colossal fourth-quarter collapse, but key baskets by Carmelo Anthony led them to a series-clinching 88-80 road victory over the Boston Celtics and a berth in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The Knicks stifled the Celtics' offense through the first three quarters of Friday night's Game 6 at the TD Garden in Boston to build a 75-49 lead with 9:48 remaining in the contest.

But they nearly surrendered that seemingly insurmountable advantage in a span of five minutes due to sloppy play.

Knicks guard Iman Shumpert finally ended the Celtics' 20-0 run with a steal and a lay-up that made the score 77-69 with five minutes to go, and then two key buckets by Anthony - a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer, his first since Game 3 - proved to be the difference down the stretch.

Anthony scored 21 points but shot just 7-of-23 from the field. Over the final three games of the series, his field-goal percentage was an extremely low 30 percent.

With Anthony struggling with his jumper, Shumpert stepped up to score 15 of his 17 points in the second half and make the critical play that halted the Celtics' momentum and settle down his teammates.

The Celtics, who lost their star point guard, Rajon Rondo, to a season-ending knee injury early in the year, refused to quit even after going down 3-0 in the series, winning an overtime game in Boston on Sunday and then stunning the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

On Friday night, the Celtics trailed 21-5 out of the blocks and spent the rest of the night trying to make up the deficit.

Jeff Green was the top scorer for Boston with 21 points, while Avery Bradley scored all 10 of his points and recorded all three of his steals in the fourth quarter as the Celtics gave the Knicks a major fright.

Veteran power forward Kevin Garnett added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

But poor shooting by Paul Pierce, who ended the night 4-of-18 from the field and missed a critical 3-pointer in the waning minutes that would have cut the Knicks' lead to three, proved costly.

Three other teams also secured second-round playoff berths on Friday night with Game 6 victories.

The Memphis Grizzlies wrapped up a 4-2 series win over the Los Angeles Clippers with a 118-105 home victory, while the Indiana Pacers finished off the Atlanta Hawks with an 81-73 road win and the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Houston Rockets with a 103-94 road victory.

The Pacers will next take on the Knicks in one Eastern Conference semifinal starting Sunday, while the defending champion Miami Heat are still waiting on the winner of the Chicago Bulls-Brooklyn Nets series, which will conclude on Saturday night.

The Western Conference semifinals will pit the Grizzlies against the Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs against the Golden State Warriors.