NEW YORK — The Knicks had a chance to close out a playoff series at home, a chance to clinch in Madison Square Garden for the first time in 14 years. They couldn’t do it, falling to the Celtics, 92-86, Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round series.
Their mood after the loss?
“Upset,” J.R. Smith said. “Everybody was kind of frustrated because we play well at home. We expect to play well at home, and we didn’t. We didn’t protect our home floor like we wanted to. We’ve got to go into a hostile environment and try to get another W.”
The Knicks had spent all season working for this, for home court and the ability to finish off a series at MSG. They had gone 31-10 in their building, and were hoping to add yet another win to that total.
“This is what playoff basketball is all about,” Raymond Felton said. “Yes, we wish we could have swept them. Yes, we wish we could have won that game tonight. Sometimes things don’t happen that way. Things are not always pretty. Things are not always the way you want them to be.”
Closing out a series at home was something the team hadn’t done since June 11, 1999 against the Pacers, when the Knicks won the Eastern Conference finals. Now, the team is hoping it doesn’t get another chance to clinch at home. The Knicks don’t want a Game 7, which would be back in New York on Sunday.
“If anything they did a great job of swinging the pressure back on us going into their building,” Smith said. “We’ve still got — worst comes to worst — two more games. We have to get one more win and move on.”
But they’d much rather get that win on Friday, finish out the series before it gets to a win-or-go-home Game 7, even if that would come at Madison Square Garden.
“We had two chances to close it out, one in Boston, and one here tonight,” CarmeloAnthony said. “Them guys came in here and took a game from us. Mentally, we’re in a great place. We still understand we control our own destiny at this point.
“We’ll see what we’re made of. We’ll go out there in Boston and see if we can close it out in Boston.”
Searching for offense
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he was pleased with the team’s defense, given that they held the Celtics to 92 points. “Offensively, we were searching,” Woodson said. “Our defense, I thought was pretty solid. They hit some tough shots. We still [held them] to less than 95 points. I’m happy. But we’ve got to find some offense somewhere.” . . . Steve Novak played just 2 minutes 50 seconds in Game 5, all of them in the second quarter. He left with a back injury and did not return. Woodson said after the game that Novak’s back went out . . . Anthony and Kevin Garnett got tangled in the fourth quarter, and Anthony appeared to sustain a shoulder injury. He said he was fine after the game. “I guess he was trying to take my arm with him,” Anthony said . . . Amar’e Stoudemire (right knee) continues to be on track to play in the second round, should the Knicks make it that far. Woodson said Stoudemire needs to experience contact before he can be deemed ready to go . . . Tyson Chandler continues to look better after suffering a bulging disc in his neck that cost him the last six games of the regular season. Chandler had 11 rebounds on Wednesday to go with 8 points.