NEW YORK — Shortly after the buzzer sounded Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, a heated altercation occurred on the court involving players from the Celtics and Knicks.
It appeared to begin when Celtics reserve Jordan Crawford started talking trash to Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
It’s unclear, even from slow-motion video replays, exactly what Crawford said to Anthony, but Knicks guard Raymond Felton immediately came over and had to be restrained.
D.J. White held back Crawford along with Chris Wilcox, while Terrence Williams held back Felton.
When asked if he said anything to Anthony, Crawford told the Globe, “Nah, they was talking to me, baby. They was talking to me. Yeah, they like me. I think it’s that smile I keep carrying. I think we’re playing freely, not thinking as much.”
Anthony was obviously upset with Crawford after the Eastern Conference first-round playoff game, which the Celtics won, 92-86, to push the series to Game 6 Friday at TD Garden in Boston.
“I’m not thinking about no Jordan Crawford,” Anthony said. “Not at this point in time, I’ll tell you that. I don’t even think he even deserves for you to be typing right now.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was on the floor at the end and ordered several of his players to leave the court.
“I wasn’t happy with it,” he said. “Woody [Knicks coach Mike Woodson] wasn’t happy with it. We don’t need any of that. We really don’t. I mean, let’s just play basketball. Let’s be as physical as we can be on the floor. And then let’s walk off the floor. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t think it was a big deal. I think it was a lot of talking.”
Said Felton: “It was words, nothing serious.”
Said Knicks guard J.R. Smith: “Just bickering. Acting like a bunch of schoolgirls.”
Said Williams: “Good thing, no punches and all that. And we’ll see them on Friday.”
Crawford didn’t play in the game.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I don’t know what happened, you know what I’m saying? I was on the bench the whole game, I don’t know why they was talking to me.
“They gotta be upset, their [expletives] tightening up. Of course they upset.”
Kevin Garnett, who turns 37 this month, has grabbed 52 rebounds in the last three games.
“That’s amazing,” guard Avery Bradley said. “He’s an amazing player. You can’t really say anything else. That’s all you can say. Amazing, man.”
Garnett pulled down 18 rebounds in Wednesday night’s win, his most in the series after pulling down 17 in each of the previous two games.
“He’s a legend in this game,” Paul Pierce said. “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game. And you’re seeing when the great ones get challenged, what they’re able to do. That’s what you’re seeing in Kevin Garnett.”
When asked about his rebounding, Garnett said, simply, “I have no idea.”
The Celtics extended Garnett’s minutes from previous games. He played 39. But he also got a brief rest late in the game. Garnett came back in the game and hit the deciding jumper with 48 seconds left that helped ice the Celtics win.
“I really believe that two-minute stretch we gave him allowed him the strength to make that shot,” Rivers said. “His rebounding and his presence have been amazing for us.”
During crunch time, the Celtics turned to a new guard to handle the ball: Williams.
Williams joined the team in February after playing in China and this postseason is his first taste of NBA playoff action.
But in the 17 minutes Williams played, he wasn’t rattled.
He finished with 4 points on 2-of-5 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and no turnovers.
And during most of the minutes that Williams was out there, the Knicks were turning up their defensive pressure as they tried to rally.
But Williams brought the ball up the court and didn’t seem fazed by that pressure.
“You play at your pace, don’t let anybody speed you up to where you want to turn the ball over,” he said. “And try to run the team. That’s what I tried to do.”
Rivers said he wasn’t sure why he went with Williams off the bench, but that he’s glad he did.
“Sometimes, you pull out a card,” Rivers said. “He was it tonight.”
Rivers also said of Williams, “He controlled the ball. He can handle the pressure and bring it up the floor. He got guys into our stuff.”
Pierce remarked at how most players are anxious when they’re playing in their first NBA playoff series.
“But you don’t see that in him,” Pierce said. “He has the poise of a veteran when he’s out there and he’s given us great minutes every game.”
Williams said it’s his job to be ready and that he’s especially learned how to do that from watching Garnett.
“I look up to Kevin so much more now, being on the team with him,” Williams said. “Playing against him, you hate him, now I look up to him like a big brother. Watching him work every day, it just kind of molded in my game, so I’ve just got to be ready. And that’s what I tried to be tonight.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes