Basketball

Celtics escape New York

NEW YORK - Paul Pierce thought it was good. So did the fans who roared in celebration at what appeared to be the victory that would punctuate the New York Knicks' return to relevance.

Ray Allen knew otherwise, and so did the referees.

Amare Stoudemire’s 3-pointer came just after the final buzzer, giving the Boston Celtics a thrilling 118-116 victory Wednesday night and their 11th straight win.

“It was great basketball. It was a great Eastside barnyard knockdown, backyard scuffle, if you will,” Boston’s Kevin Garnett said.

Pierce made a tiebreaking jumper with 0.4 seconds left to win it. The Knicks’ eight-game winning streak is over, but a dormant rivalry might be back.

“We definitely earned our respect,” Stoudemire said. “I guarantee you right now Boston respects us. We’re no slouch. We’re ready to play every night.”

Pierce’s late jumper proved to be enough as a video replay of Stoudemire’s shot showed the ball was clearly still in his hands as time expired.

“The Knicks are playing great basketball, can’t take anything away from them, and I actually thought Amare’s shot counted,” Pierce said.

Pierce scored 32 points for the Celtics, who trailed most of the night before running their record to 20-4, best in the Eastern Conference.

Stoudemire tied a season high with 39 points, extending his franchise-record streak to nine straight 30-point games.

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