BOSTON — Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and the New York Knicks held on after blowing most of a 26-point lead to beat the Boston Celtics 88-80 in Game 6 on Friday night and advance in the postseason for the first time since 2000.
Iman Shumpert scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, when the Celtics cut a 75-49 deficit to four points. But Anthony made a jumper to give New York an 81-75 lead and then sank a 3-pointer, then J.R. Smith converted a three-point play to restore the double-digit lead the Knicks had nursed most of the game.
Jeff Green scored 21 points for the Celtics, who had rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the series and had a chance, at home, to force a decisive seventh game.
No NBA team has advanced in the playoffs after losing the first three games.
Pacers 81, Hawks 73
ATLANTA — George Hill and David West each scored 21 points and the Indiana Pacers withstood a furious Atlanta comeback in the fourth quarter, beating the Hawks 81-73 on Friday night to close out the opening-round playoff series four games to two.
The home team had won every game until the Hawks returned to Philips Arena and set a franchise record with just nine points in the second quarter on 1-of-15 shooting. The defense broke down in the third, allowing Hill and West to combine for 22 points, and the Pacers built a 65-50 lead going to the fourth.
The Hawks showed some heart, slicing it to 76-73 on Al Horford’s dunk with 2:13 remaining.
But the comeback fizzled there, and the Pacers advanced to face New York.
Canadiens 3 Senators 1
MONTREAL — Ryan White started a three-goal second period and goalie Carey Price was back in top form with 29 saves and the Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 3-1 to even their playoff series on Friday.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 on Sunday in Ottawa.
Brendan Gallagher and Michael Ryder also scored for Montreal. Milan Michalek scored for Ottawa, which was let down by a power play that went 0-for-4.
There was anticipation of rough play after Eric Gryba’s hit that saw Montreal’s Lars Eller carried off the Bell Centre ice on a stretcher with a concussion and some missing teeth in Ottawa’s 4-2 win in the series opener on Thursday night. Eller spent the night in hospital and was released Friday morning.
Islanders 4, Penguins 3
PITTSBURGH — Kyle Okposo’s first career playoff goal with 7:37 remaining lifted the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, evening their playoffs series at one game each.
Matt Moulson, Colin McDonald and Matt Martin also scored for the Islanders, who spoiled Sidney Crosby’s comeback from a broken jaw by rallying from an early two-goal deficit.
Crosby scored twice in the game’s first eight minutes as the Penguins raced to a quick 3-1 lead. But they couldn’t hold it as the Islanders bounced back from a lifeless performance in Game 1.
Evgeni Nabokov overcame a sluggish start to stop 30 shots as the Islanders won their first playoff game in more than six years.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 38 saves for Pittsburgh, which allowed the speedy Islanders to effectively counterpunch all night.
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