BOSTON — The Knicks’ best chance of upsetting the Celtics may have come and gone last night with a flick of Ray Allen’s wrist and a bad step by Chauncey Billups.
The Knicks imposed their will on the ragged Celtics for much of the night, beating them at their own grinding game, building a 12-point halftime lead and leading by three with 37.8 seconds left.
But it ended in a nightmare for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.
Allen fired in a 3-pointer over Ronny Turiaf with 11.6 seconds from the left wing and Anthony ended a wretched second half by front-rimming a potential last-second, game-winning trey as the Knicks suffered a 87-85 Game 1 heartbreaker at TD Garden.
The Knicks broke their seven-year playoff drought, yet failed to break their 10-year drought without a playoff win. But they came close. Darn close.
Whether they remain competitive the rest of the first-round series is uncertain, after point guard Billups sustained a strained left knee with just under a minute remaining when his leg buckled on a drive. He did not return, and his status for Game 2 — and the rest of the series — is unknown.