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Celtics hold off Knicks in high-scoring Christmas opener

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Already awakened from Christmas slumber by a high-scoring game, the Madison Square Garden crowd was rocking. “Defense! Defense!” Knicks fans chanted after New York tied the game with a 16-3 run.

Then, Marcus Smart hit a 3-pointer out of a Boston timeout. Avery Bradley poked the ball away from Carmelo Anthony on the other end.

Hush.

The Celtics beat the Knicks, 119-114, in the highest-scoring Christmas opener since the NBA expanded to a five-game Christmas schedule in 2008. The previous high-water mark in the early game, known for lethargic and sloppy performances, was New York’s 106-104 win over Boston in 2011. That was the only other time teams combined to score 200 in the first of five Christmas games.

“We got the win, so it was everything that I dreamed of,” said Thomas, who led Boston with 25 points in his first Christmas game.

The isolation-heavy Knicks just couldn’t keep up with the Celtics’ humming offense. Boston had 25 assists and eight turnovers. New York? Eleven assists and 17 turnovers.

Anthony scored 29, but hassled by Jae Crowder, he shot just 9-for-24 and fell short of 30 points for the first time in five Christmas games. Nice individual scoring by Derrick Rose (25 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (22 points) kept the Knicks in it.

New York (16-14) would’ve passed Boston (18-13) in the standings with a win, but the Celtics – who’ve won four straight and eight of nine against the Knicks – maintain the upper hand. Now, Boston moves onto challenging bigger fish – like the Cavaliers and Raptors.

“With that starting five healthy, we know we can be scary in the East,” Thomas said.

On the other hand, the Knicks – as competitive as they’ve been in years – must seek another source of validation after coming up short in this high-profile game.

Grizzlies’ James Ennis fouls out then hits half-court shot (video)

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Against the Pacers last night, James Ennis missed all three of his 3-point attempts… that counted. And he makes this one after fouling out?

Mike Conley more than picked up the slack to lead the Grizzlies to victory.

Pelicans’ Dante Cunningham jumps on scorer’s table, Anthony Davis jumps on him (video)

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The Pelicans are effectively out of the playoff race, but Dante Cunningham and Anthony Davis are still competing — even if it looks a little silly.

That tone and a big game from DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) led to a 121-118 win over the Mavericks.

Goran Dragic puts alley-oop pass through rim (video)

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Goran Dragic is very good at alley-oops.

Too good.

With a “shot” like that falling, the Heat trounced the Knicks, 105-88.

Hawks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. kneed in the groin while defending 76ers (video)

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Since trading for him, the Hawks have gotten Tim Hardaway Jr. to buy in defensively.

After this help defense on 76ers center Richaun Holmes cost him dearly, I wouldn’t blame Hardaway if he gave up on the endeavor entirely.