NEW YORK — The ploy came from Kenyon Martin, who asked that his teammates pull out their black suits for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, a game the Knicks expected to win. So they complied with the request, but didn’t follow through with the win.
As J.R. Smith said, after the game, “We was going to a funeral, but looks like we got buried.”
Brandon Bass responded, before the game, with, “Really? They did that? Thank you.”
Perhaps it motivated the Celtics. It surely did not seem to motivate the Knicks, who dropped their second straight potential clincher to Boston, 92-86, sending the series back to TD Garden on Friday.
“I’m done with this black stuff,” Smith said.
A large part of the loss was the combination of Smith and Carmelo Anthony, who were just 11 for 38 from the floor, and that included a couple of garbage time buckets. For most of the game, Smith was an embarrassing 0-fer, getting up to 0 for 10 before he finally hit with 2:49 left in the game and the Celtics up by 12 points.
That was the same Smith who had boasted after the Knicks lost Game 4, “Oh yeah, it would have been over,” had he played. “I would’ve been playing golf today.” Smith, of course, had been suspended after elbowing Jason Terry in the face in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
He had a different message after Game 5.
“Yeah,” Smith said, when asked if he thought he had cost the Knicks the last two games. “Without a doubt.
“We were in a great rhythm playing, pretty much going into the last 20 games of the season, including the first three playoff games. And then [I] come out today, stink it up with two huge turnovers, miss a lot of shots, bad defense on my part. I can’t have a game like this. I can’t have another one like this.”
Part of his performance, Smith said, was the pressure he put on himself. He knew he had screwed up in Game 4, that his lapse in judgment wasn’t going to help his team, and so he tried to get the win by himself.
“He missed shots, but he took some tough shots too,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “It was a struggle for him pretty much the whole game. We’ve got to get him in position where he’s not struggling like that. We need him to score the basketball for us.”
Given his treatment of Terry, Smith is unlikely to be received well Friday night in Boston. He’s prepared for that.
“I don’t really care,” Smith said. “I want to get the W. If they boo me every time I touch the ball, or whatever happens, I’ve got to stay focused on my team. We’ve got to come out with a W. We can’t just keep letting teams do what they want to do.”
Of course, it wasn’t only him.
After Anthony had made just 10 of his 35 shots in Game 4 in Boston, the Knicks star came back with an 8-for-24 performance in Game 5, scoring 6 of his 22 points from the free throw line. The pair led the Knicks to their 39.5 percent performance overall.
“We’re just not making shots,” Anthony said. “I don’t think that Boston is doing anything that they haven’t been doing. The looks are there, the shots just aren’t going in right now.”
Anthony started strong, making five of his first seven shots, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. He made just three shots in the final three quarters.
Anthony went 1 for 7 in the second quarter, 0 for 4 in the third, and 2 for 6 in the fourth.
“He had some shots, some looks, we just couldn’t find buckets,” Woodson said. “We’re just not getting into our offense quick enough. Our pace has got to pick up. That’s on me.”
With the poor shooting nights for the Knicks’ two top scorers, and not enough offense from the rest of the team, New York couldn’t close out the Celtics in Game 5, even though Woodson said he believes the Knicks still control their destiny.
“This wasn’t going to be an easy breeze,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Them guys was going to fight. They’re showing some fight right now. They threw a couple punches at us, and now it’s time for us to do the same.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.