|New York vs|
|107 - 82|
He had seen a little too much swagger lately, a little too much cockiness from a team that had grown a little too pleased with itself after winning 11 of 12.
The Celtics' run of success ended Wednesday night against a New York Knicks team that was in no mood to be swept in the season series and summoned some unusual feistiness while getting that point across in a 107-82 victory.
In a game that featured seven technical fouls and a flagrant foul in the first half, the Knicks made one of the NBA's hottest teams look rather ordinary.
"We were our own worst opponent tonight. We were horrible," Rivers said. "I think it's a good lesson for us, and it's only one loss."
It was just the second loss in 13 games for the Celtics since they reacquired Antoine Walker, and they looked nothing like the offensive juggernaut that had surpassed 100 points in six straight games.
Walker shot just 5-for-20, Paul Pierce was 2-for-5 and Ricky Davis shot 2-for-10 as the Celtics shot only 38 percent, had their seven-game winning streak snapped and were held to a season-low point total.
"They're just a bunch of frontrunners right now," the Knicks' Tim Thomas said. "Nobody is going to come in here and push us around."
Jamal Crawford led New York with 21 points, two of them coming when he passed the ball to himself off the backboard, caught it and dunked. Trevor Ariza added 14 points, and Thomas and Maurice Taylor had 13 apiece.
The Knicks won for the third time in four games, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. A big test begins Friday as New York travels to Seattle to start a four-game road trip, playing its fourth straight game against a division leader. New York remained in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind eighth-place Philadelphia.
Boston had its most lopsided loss of the season.
"We came out running our mouths and acted like a low-class basketball team. We didn't show them any respect," said Rivers, who noticed an unhealthy increase in his team's trash-talking during a road victory at Houston five nights earlier. "That was a team excited about a winning streak and not acting like a winning team.
"I should have done a better job of stopping it earlier."
The Celtics had won their previous three meetings with New York by an average of almost 19 points, but it became clear early on that the Knicks seemed to resent those beatings.
Crawford and Davis picked up double technical fouls for yelling at each other less than two minutes into the game, and Pierce and Thomas received double technicals moments later after another brief verbal spat.
"He was running his mouth. Don't talk it if you can't back it up," Thomas said. "It's not even MTV, and he got punked."
With the game less than 3 minutes old, Raef LaFrentz was assessed a flagrant foul for taking too big of a swipe at Michael Sweetney.
New York led by as many as nine in the first quarter, let Boston get back within two points midway through the second quarter, then used a 19-1 run to take a 54-34 lead. Jerome Williams and Maurice Taylor ended the run with dunks, Williams hanging and swinging from the rim after his.
The Celtics got their deficit down to nine points with 2:28 left in the third quarter, but the Knicks closed the period with a 9-1 run and then stayed comfortably ahead throughout the fourth quarter.
"They got us all riled up in the first quarter, and it's best to let a sleeping dog lie," Williams said. "They woke me and a lot of my teammates up."
The Knicks played their second straight game without center Kurt Thomas, who was hospitalized for two days after he developed a fever from an infected elbow. He said he was hopeful of playing Friday at Seattle. ... Boston's five-game road winning streak came to an end. ... Pierce declined to speak to the media before the game, although he did find the time to break up an interview Tony Allen was doing with an ESPN crew.