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Celtics fourth-quarter rally stuns the stuttering Knicks

Boston gave the New York Knicks fans further reason to grumble after the Celtics produced a stunning fourth-quarter run to claim a 96-86 victory.

NEW YORK // Boston gave the New York Knicks fans further reason to grumble after the Celtics produced a stunning fourth-quarter run to claim a 96-86 victory.

Paul Pierce scored 21 points, including nine straight Boston points during a critical stretch in the fourth quarter, while Kevin Garnett recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds to help the Celtics (50-19) overcome a nine-point deficit in the final quarter.

For New York, the loss intensifies the scrutiny of a team that has gone just 7-9 since their trade that landed Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Denver Nuggets.

"We have to figure something out. It's not real good right now, obviously," the New York coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Knicks (35-35) chalk up their third straight defeat and sixth in seven games.

"A lot of times I have my idea of how I want us to play. If we can't do that then we have to play some other way."

Their recent rough patch has seen the team captain Amar'e Stoudemire publicly implore his team to follow coach D'Antoni's system, while newcomer Anthony has said it will require patience as the squad develops chemistry.

Anthony scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half last night as the Knicks built a 14-point half-time lead, but he and Stoudemire failed to record a field goal in the fourth.

New York held an 82-73 advantage with 7:26 remaining before Boston ran off a 13-0 run marked by Pierce's hot stretch, and ended the contest with 10 consecutive points to put the Knicks away.

The victory helped the Celtics stay tied with the Chicago Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Ray Allen had 15 points for Boston but needed stitches to close a cut over his eye after he was struck by an elbow that briefly sidelined him in the third.

Anthony also suffered a cut near his eye when he collided with a player while chasing a loose ball late in the fourth.

Billups finished with 21 and Stoudemire tallied 16 and 11 rebounds in the losing effort.

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