BACK IN THE series, now back to Boston. The Celtics, winners of the most NBA championships, are two victories from making more history.

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds and the Celtics stayed alive in the NBA playoffs, cutting the New York Knicks' lead to 3-2 with a 92-86 victory last night at Madison Square Garden.

The Celtics will host Game 6 tomorrow night, needing two victories to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

"We just wanted to keep it going," Brandon Bass said.

Bass added 17 points, steadying Boston as it shook off an 11-0 deficit and pulled away in the second half to stop the Knicks again from achieving their first playoff series victory since 2000.

"We didn't panic and that's something we've done, but we didn't," coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought once the game got back to that five, six area, our guys were good again."

J.R. Smith, back from his one-game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry with the Knicks way ahead late in Game 3, missed his first 10 shots and finished 3 of 14 for 14 points.

Terry also scored 17 off the bench.

Jeff Green scored 18 points and Paul Pierce had 16 as he and Garnett, the two franchise stalwarts, extended this season - and perhaps their Celtics careers - at least one more game.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8-for-24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks, who blew a big lead in this game and now face an unwanted trip back to Boston instead of the rest their aging roster could surely use before the second round.

If they get there.

"I think we're fine," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "Sure we would've loved to close it out and move on, but nobody said it would be easy."

The Celtics were the first of the eight NBA teams that have come from 3-1 down, beating the Sixers in 1968, and put themselves on the short list of teams that have erased a 2-0 deficit the next year in the NBA Finals.

So perhaps it would be fitting if they were the first to overcome a 3-0 hole.

"I think so. I mean, I think that would be wonderful, and someone's going to do it and I want it to be us, obviously, since that's the situation we're in," Rivers said before the game. "Someone will do it, and I really want to be a part of that."

In another game * 

At Indianapolis, David West scored 24 points and Paul George had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Indiana past Atlanta, 106-83, taking a 3-2 playoff series lead.

The Pacers have won all three home games in the best-of-seven series and are 5-0 at home this season against the Hawks. They will go to Atlanta tomorrow with a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series. But the Hawks have won 13 straight at home against the Pacers, including both games in this series.

Atlanta was led by Josh Smith and Al Horford, who each had 14 points. And it was every bit as ugly as the Hawks' first two double-digit losses in Indy.

Indiana took the lead for good midway through the second quarter and opened the third period on a 12-3 run to make it 62-46. The Pacers put it away when the Hawks lost their composure.

Noteworthy * 

It's unanimous: Portland's Damian Lillard is the NBA's Rookie of the Year. No, it never was in question. Lillard, the sixth overall pick in last June's draft out of Weber State, led all rookies with a 19-point scoring average. He also averaged 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, playing in all 82 games this season. And he swept all six of the league's Rookie of the Month awards this season.

"I can't stop smiling," Lillard said when he was awarded the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.

Lillard is the fourth player in league history to win the Rookie of the Year unanimously, joining Blake Griffin in 2011, David Robinson in 1990 and Ralph Sampson in 1984.