Nick Laham/Getty ImagesGlen Davis and the Celtics kept their eyes on the prize Sunday.
NEW YORK — Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 101-89 in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinals series Sunday at Madison Square Garden to complete a 4-0 series sweep.

Kevin Garnett scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while grabbing 16 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 12 assists to fuel Boston to the four-game sweep. Glen Davis added 14 points and the bench provided its best effort of the postseason. New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 32 points on 10-of-24 shooting, while Amare Stoudemire kicked in 19 points (despite 5-of-20 shooting woes) and 12 rebounds.

The Celtics led by as much as 23 in the third quarter before New York made a feverish charge hoping to prolong its season. The Knicks trimmed their deficit to 10 by the end of the frame, then got it as low as four with 7:33 to play. That’s when Celtics coach Doc Rivers called timeout, put in his full starting unit and Boston embarked on an 11-5 run, Rondo and Garnett capping the dash with back-to-back jumpers that put the Celtics back on top by double digits, 95-85, with 4:11 remaining.

After a brilliant and dominating first half in which the Knicks were 11-of-47 (23.4 percent) for 38 points, the Celtics left their defensive intensity in the locker room at intermission. New York more than doubled its field goal output in the third quarter, scoring 12 buckets for 34 points to fuel the rally.

Jermaine O’Neal labored through foul trouble that limited him to 21 minutes, but he quietly grabbed six rebounds and provided stellar defense the entire time he was on the court.

Previously a mere 8-11 in closeout games during the Big Three era, the Celtics completed their first best-of-seven series sweep since dispatching Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals in 1986 (before going on to win a world title that year). Boston could have made it a little easier on itself without fumbling away its big lead. But the starters tightened up over the final seven minutes, preventing the need for the late-game heroics of the first two games of the series. Despite Miami’s stumble against Philadelphia, it seems inevitable that the Celtics and Heat will clash in the conference semifinals. Boston will enjoy as much as a full week off before that series starts (depending on how quickly the Heat close out — unless of course Philly pulls off an unprecedented rally from a 3-0 hole).

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