NEW YORK -- First it was Kobe, and then King James lit up Madison Square Garden. And at the end of one difficult week the New York Knicks were hurt by a cold hard truth and an All-Star guard who truly does have game.
Kevin Garnett also had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Boston, which rebounded from its 110-109 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. The Celtics won the season series against New York 3-1 and have won nine of the past 10 in the rivalry.
"It was a big win," said Pierce, nicknamed "The Truth" for his considerable all-around game. "For one, I thought we were mentally and physically drained coming into this game, especially after the tough loss. It took us a while. We got off to a slow start, but this team continues to find ways to win."
"They're world champions and we're not and we're trying to get to be really good, and I thought for a long time we played really well," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Our defense was good, I thought our energy was there."
Allen, who starred in the movie He Got Game, took over in the fourth quarter of the back-and-forth contest. After Danilo Gallinari scored to give New York an 80-79 lead, Allen scored Boston's next 11 points. His drive with about six minutes left put Boston in front 90-86.
"I really thought that stretch where Ray got it going got us out," coach Doc Rivers said. "That was huge for us."
Eddie House added a jumper and a 3-pointer from the corner to extend the Celtics' lead to nine with 4:05 to go. Chris Duhon responded with a three-point play for New York, but Garnett found Leon Powe inside for a dunk and Pierce hit a long jumper to make it 99-89 with 3:11 remaining.
"They know how to close out games down the stretch," Duhon said. "They execute perfectly offensively and defensively, and that's something that we have to get to."
It was an appropriate finale for a difficult week for the Knicks, who lost to three of the NBA's best teams and surrendered a couple of the greatest performances in Madison Square Garden history over a matter of days. Kobe Bryant scored 61 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 126-117 victory Monday, and LeBron James had 52 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-102 win Wednesday.
The Knicks' "Dream Week" wasn't exactly a nightmare considering the competition, but it definitely was a restless couple of nights.
"We knew this was going to be a tough week," Lee said. "I would have loved to get two victories out of it, but unfortunately we didn't."
Powe had 13 points and Rajon Rondo added 12 for the Celtics, who made nine of their first 12 shots in their 38-point fourth quarter -- including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. Boston has won seven straight on the road and 13 of 14 overall.
"That's the great thing about this game," Allen said. "When you go through such an emotional roller coaster one night, then you come back the next night, you're just playing the game. We knew they were sitting home waiting for us. It was important that we came out and played."
Kendrick Perkins' layup put Boston ahead 62-60 in the third, but Nate Robinson had a four-point play and Wilson Chandler had a terrific driving dunk to give the Knicks a four-point lead with three minutes left in the quarter.
Lee had 10 points in the third as New York carried a 76-72 lead into the final period.
Duhon had 15 points and seven assists, and Robinson finished with 13 points.
- Pierce seemed to be favoring his right arm when he went to the sideline late in the first quarter. But the All-Star forward re-entered with 9:05 left in the second and appeared to be fine.
- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan got a rousing ovation when he was shown on the overhead video screen in the first half.
- Boston's matchup with the Lakers on Thursday night drew the highest rating on TNT since a 1996 game featuring Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson during the height of the Chicago Bulls' dynasty. The NBA Finals rematch delivered a 2.7 U.S. rating and was watched by more than 4.3 million viewers.