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Knicks get off to good start; Anthony is unstoppable as Celtics lose close one

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks know it will never be easy against the Celtics.

Not beating them in one game, and certainly not beating them for a division title.

But pulling out the kind of nail-biter that's long gone Boston's way in this rivalry only reinforced the Knicks' belief that they can do it -- and even the Celtics see a difference.

Anthony scored 37 points, including a pair of free throws with the game tied and 16 seconds left, and New York survived a seesaw season opener Sunday to edge the Celtics, 106-104.

"Most importantly for us, as a new team, we showed something," Anthony said. "We came together as a team. Even when we got down, there wasn't no frowns. Nobody was down. Mentally everybody was still up about it, and we willed our way to this win."

Amare Stoudemire added 21 points and Toney Douglas had 19 for the Knicks, who led by 17 in the first half, trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter, then pulled out a thrilling Christmas victory in the delayed opener to the 2011-12 season.

Rajon Rondo had 31 points and 13 assists, nearly leading the Celtics back without an injured Paul Pierce. But Kevin Garnett missed a jumper just before the buzzer, the kind of shot Boston always seems to make against the Knicks.

"They seem to have a little swag and confidence behind them," Garnett said. "It's good for the city. It's good for the Knicks. I'm going to see how consistent they are with that, but for the most part Carmelo played really well."

Brandon Bass had 20 points and 11 rebounds in his Celtics debut, and Ray Allen added 20 points.

Garnett finished with 15 points. He and Allen had a sleepy Christmas start, with Rondo keeping the Celtics in the game until they got going in the second half.

"I thought we were as soft as you could be in the first quarter and then I thought we joined in to the 2011-12 season, and from that point on I was pretty happy with the way we played," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

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Bulls edge Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Derrick Rose drove the lane and lofted home a smooth floating shot for the winning points in the Chicago Bulls' opener, just in case anybody doubted the youngest MVP in NBA history can shoulder the expectations that come bundled with that shiny new trophy and a huge contract extension.

Yet Rose realized the Bulls' dramatic comeback and his beautiful winner were only possible because Luol Deng did a whole mess of dirty work against Kobe Bryant. Rose scored 22 points and hit a short go-ahead shot with 4.8 seconds to play, and the Bulls rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 3:44 for an 88-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"If it weren't for my teammates, making the steal and getting the ball to me at the end, there's no way I could have gotten that shot off to help us win that game," Rose said.

That credit went straight to Deng, who scored 21 points and stole Bryant's pass with 16.9 seconds left to set up Rose's winner before finally blocking Bryant's short shot right before the buzzer. Rose was grateful the Bulls hung on to win the clubs' first Christmas meeting, but even happier about their poise in an early test.

"We definitely don't want to be in a situation like that, but we fought our way back," said Rose.

Carlos Boozer had 15 points for the Bulls, who have designs on a championship run after leading the NBA with 62 regular-season victories last season.

Bryant had 28 points and eight turnovers while playing with a torn wrist ligament for the Lakers.

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Durant starts nicely

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored 30 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder win their season opener with a 97-89 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Durant was 11 of 19 from the field and added five rebounds and six assists. James Harden added 19 points and the Thunder held Orlando star Dwight Howard to just 11 points.

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