By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Paul Pierce scored 23 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks 102-96 on Monday night in a heated first meeting of the season between the Atlantic Division rivals.
Kevin Garnett added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who even without the suspended Rajon Rondo won their third straight and finally are playing like the team that has ruled the division for the last half-decade.
The Knicks want that title now, but Carmelo Anthony and his teammates were reminded how tough the Celtics can make it.
Anthony had 20 points but shot 6 of 26 while battling his temper, Garnett and foul trouble. J.R. Smith led the Knicks with 24 points.
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