NEW YORK – Carmelo Anthony started fast, struggled through the middle, and finished with a flurry.
And the New York Knicks, after knocking the Boston Celtics from the top of the Atlantic Division, took the first step toward knocking them out of the playoffs.
Anthony scored 36 points, leading the Knicks to an 85-78 victory Saturday in their playoff opener.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we got our first win of the series here on our home court, took care of that business, Anthony said. It was real important for us to come out and get this first win.
The NBA’s scoring leader had 10 quick points and endured a tough shooting night from there before scoring eight points in the fourth quarter, helping New York take a 1-0 lead in a series for the first time since the 2001 first round against Toronto.
Boston knows Melo and they know he’s not going anywhere, but they’re going to make it as tough as possible for him to score the ball, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. And he got off to a good start and then he had that slow middle, and then when he had to pick it up down the stretch, he made the plays that we needed him to make. And I mean that’s what the great ones do. They figure it out and Melo’s done that all season for our ballclub.
Anthony shot only 13 for 29 from the field but made consecutive baskets late in the final period, when the Knicks held Boston to three baskets and eight points.
Game 2 is Tuesday before the Celtics host Game 3 on Friday in what will be their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Celtics committed 21 turnovers that led to 20 points.
NETS 106, BULLS 89: In New York, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez combined for 43 points to lead Brooklyn in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Williams scored 22 points, Lopez had 21 and the Nets ripped apart the Bulls’ vaunted defense with a spectacular second quarter, when they made 16 of 20 shots. Joe Johnson finished with 16 for the Nets, who made their successful first season in Brooklyn even better with a victory in their first playoff appearance since 2007. They will host Game 2 on Monday night.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who had Joakim Noah in the starting lineup despite foot pain. But he was clearly limited, and there was no reason to play him more than the 14 minutes he got with the game never in doubt after halftime.
NUGGETS 97, WARRIORS 95: In Denver, Andre Miller scored a playoff career-high 28 points and sank a nifty layup with 1.3 seconds left that lifted Denver in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoff series.
Miller drove left past rookie Draymond Green, did an up-and-under between two defenders under the basket and banked the ball off the glass with his right hand.
The Warriors inbounded the ball and Stephen Curry’s desperation three-pointer wasn’t anywhere close as the horn sounded and the Nuggets celebrated their 24th straight win at the Pepsi Center.
Miller scored 18 in the frenetic fourth quarter.
Game 2 is Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.