Boston, MA (Sports Network) - After losing two straight times to the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks avoided a monumental collapse in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal and ended a long drought of not winning a playoff series.
The Knicks nearly blew a 26-point fourth quarter lead, but held on for a 88-80 triumph Friday at TD Garden.
Prior to this year, the Knicks had lost in the first round of the playoffs four straight times and had five consecutive postseason series defeats going back to a conference semifinal win over the Miami Heat in seven games in 2000.
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and hit a couple of key shots down the stretch for the Knicks, who also received 17 points from Iman Shumpert.
Up next for the second-seeded Knicks will be No. 3 seed Indiana. The Pacers finished off Atlanta in six games Friday night with an 81-73 road victory.
New York won the first three games of the best-of-seven set before dropping the next two, but on Friday the Knicks never trailed and raced to a 21-5 lead.
They were up 75-49 with under 10 minutes left in the game before the Celtics scored 20 in a row and got as close as four, and had momentum with Anthony wincing in pain holding his left shoulder.
Avery Bradley's steal and dunk pulled Boston within 79-75 with 3 1/2 minutes left to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
The Knicks, though, pulled through. Anthony's pull-up jumper from the right elbow and his 3-pointer from the top of the arc created a nine-point margin.
No team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series, but after Wednesday's 92-86 win triumph at Madison Square Garden the Celtics seemed to have all the momentum.
They nearly pulled off the impossible Friday night.
Jeff Green totaled 21 points before fouling out for the Celtics, who also got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Garnett.
The Sports Network