PROVIDENCE — The Dunkin’ Donuts Center crowd turned deafening as the Celtics roared back from a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit Wednesday night to take a lead in the final seconds.
But the Celtics couldn’t complete the comeback and fell, 103-102, to the New York Knicks. It’s Boston’s second straight preseason loss.
“That was fun to be a part of,” said rookie Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “That’s the way we need to play.” Stevens conceded it was nice to see his team come back in the final quarter, but he added it would “be nicer if you win.”
Celtics training camp invitee Chris Babb, a guard from Iowa State, was 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the last frame to trim the Knicks’ lead, bringing his teammates on the bench to their feet.
“My first shot fell and it just kept falling,” said Babb, who scored 12 points in eight minutes.
The Celtics had a chance to win on their final possession, but Babb’s last-second shot in the lane was blocked.
Undrafted free agent guard Phil Pressey, making his NBA debut, had 13 points and seven assists to lead six Celtics in double figures. Vitor Faverani had 11 points and six rebounds.
Iman Shumpert scored 18 off the bench to lead five Knicks in double figures. Carmelo Anthony scored 7 points in about 22 minutes.
The Celtics were much better on the glass, outrebounding the Knicks, 36-34, after being outrebounded by 20 in their preseason opener Monday against Toronto.
The Celtics also had 28 assists on 40 field goals, and forward Jeff Green bounced back from his 6-point performance against the Raptors by scoring 10 points in 21 minutes.
Boston is scheduled to practice Thursday and then head to Newark, Del., for Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Bob Carpenter Center.
That game will be the first of a back-to-back for the Celtics, who will face the Knicks on Saturday in Manchester, N.H., at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Here to stay
When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Doc Rivers all departed from Boston this offseason, speculation swirled that, for a variety of reasons, Rajon Rondo would be the next to go.
The All-Star point guard, speaking to reporters Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, strongly disagreed with the notion.
“I love it here,” Rondo said, according to a CSNNE transcript. “The fans are great here. And Danny [Ainge] has been straightforward with me. This is my team. Why would I want to leave? Why would I want out? I never really backed away from a challenge. This would be a challenge. I’m looking forward to working with coach Stevens. It’s a brand new start for us as a team. A lot of new players and a lot of young guys willing to listen, so I’m very excited.”
Rondo, who had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, also said his first instinct was not to be like NFL star running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered that injury, came back in six months and won the NFL MVP the next season.
“I want to be like Rajon Rondo,” Rondo said with a smile. “Obviously he came back and had an MVP season. That’s the type of season I want to have when I come back. I don’t want to come back and just be mediocre or have excuses about why I’m not playing up to par. When I come back, I won’t have any excuses. I’ll be ready to go. And if I’m not playing up to par, it’s just on me. I won’t blame it on my knee.”
Green could play as many as three positions this season: shooting guard, small forward, and power forward. It’s a heavy load, and Stevens said the Celtics will likely simplify Green’s role and have him play one or two positions for now, though he said it hasn’t been determined exactly what roles.
“There’s so many schemes, so many things I need to know,” Green said. “I told [Stevens], we talked, and I told him I’m still willing to take on that challenge because with my versatility, we can cause mismatch problems and put the advantage on our side. It’s all a work in progress.”
Wednesday’s game was a homecoming for MarShon Brooks (8 points), the former Providence College standout who played for four seasons at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Brooks said he had about 15 tickets for friends who attended the game in which he made his Celtic debut after being a part of the blockbuster trade with Brooklyn this offseason.