By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics took another step in the right direction Friday night, beating the New York Knicks, 96-82, in their much-anticipated TD Banknorth Garden preseason debut.
As anticipated, Boston coach Doc Rivers played his starters more minutes than he allowed them to play in their preseason opening loss to Houston last Wednesday.
Rivers also experimented with Boston's second unit, allowing them to play together at the same time for long stretches. He did not play some of his third unit players such as Brian Scalabrine (9 points) and Lester Hudson (2 points) until the midway point of the third quarter, though he did play all 16 Celtics.
All eyes were on Kevin Garnett's surgically repaired right knee, and he had another positive outing. After recording 6 points and 5 rebounds in 13 minutes against Houston, Garnett tallied 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting and 8 rebounds in 22 minutes Friday night against the Knicks.
Garnett, who is 6-foot-11 and 253 pounds, spent plenty of time posting up New York's 6-foot-9, 250-pound power forward Al Harrington. His only scare of the night came with 1:32 remaining in the first half when he was fouled while posting up New York 6-11 forward Jared Jeffries. Garnett grimaced, shook his leg to work out the kinks, knocked down both free throws and remained in the game though he did favor his right leg over the final 1:32 of the first half.
Garnett's defensive co-captain Kendrick Perkins looked really good in the post. He knocked down his first four shots while displaying an array of post moves, helping Boston build a 19-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Perkins led the Celtics with14 points and had 7 rebounds.
Ray Allen also had a solid first half, scoring all 13 of his points in the opening session.
Paul Pierce shook off his early first quarter struggles when he missed six of seven shots, by knocking down three of his final four shots for nine points and five rebounds. Rajon Rondo had six points and three assists.
As for Boston's newcomers, Rasheed Wallace only made one of his first seven shots over the first three quarters, but he exploded for 11 fourth quarter points to put the exclamation point on the game. He left the floor with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Rivers said that Marquis Daniels was the Celtics best player against Houston, but Daniels struggled last night (3 points, 3 rebounds, 1-for-5 shooting) while Glen Davis (7 points, 8 rebounds) and Eddie House (5 points, 5 rebounds) provided some sparks off of the bench.
Shelden Williams did not get into the game until there was 5:52 remaining in the game and the Celtics were up 84-64, and Michael Sweetney and J.R. Giddens did enter until there was 4:37 remaining.
Harrington (13 points, 4 rebounds) and David Lee (13 points, 6 rebounds) were New York's top scorers.
It was a sloppy game from start to finish with the two teams combining for 37 turnovers and 45 personal fouls.
More to come....