Video: Paul Pierce Hits Game-Winner, Stoudemire's Comes After the Buzzer
It came down to the final two plays, and the second was even more thrilling than the first -- except for the fact that it didn't count.
Paul Pierce broke a 116-all tie by hitting a tough step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of Amar'e Stoudemire, giving the Celtics a two-point lead while leaving just 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
And then, Stoudemire answered, by hitting a three-pointer that would have won it -- if only he would have gotten the shot off before time had expired.
There are several things to discuss regarding that final play. Let's go bullet points, shall we?
-- Let's get this out of the way first: that was an amazing shot by Stoudemire. Just because it didn't count, that doesn't make it any less impressive, and it simply adds to his MVP resume he's building this season.
-- Now, the negatives: with just 0.4 on the clock, it has to be a catch-and-shoot -- not a catch, square up, and get a fundamentally-sound shot at winning the game. Mike D'Antoni has to know this, and not call a play that inbounds the ball so far from the basket that it requires his player to take time he doesn't have to gather himself for that shot. I know, I know -- Derek Fisher and all that. But plays like that are miraculous, and you have to know that a three-pointer in that situation is going to be extremely tough to get off in that 0.4 window. Draw up something going towards the rim, and hope for the best.
-- Looking at the replay, why in the world are the Knicks (and the fans at MSG) celebrating after Stoudemire's shot? It was clearly after the buzzer; it wasn't even close, really -- the buzzer went off while the ball was still in Amar'e's hands. It was going to be reviewed either way, and I can't imagine the disappointment level for the fan who not only had to deal with losing a game he thought his team had won, but who also has to wake up the next morning with a sore throat after screaming his head off at the non-buzzer-beating final shot. That's the definition of adding insult to injury.
The bottom line is, this is why the Celtics are who they are: they stay in games until the very end, and make plays when it counts. They're a veteran team with legitimate championship aspirations. And the Knicks? Well, they're certainly showing that they're making every effort to join this elite class. Getting over the hump in these games in the future will be an excellent start, and as fate would have it, they'll get another shot on Friday against the Miami Heat -- who, coincidentally, will also be riding a 10-game winning streak when they head into MSG.