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

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. Tyson Chandler blocked six shots in his Knicks debut.

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. "I thought we competed well."

But it wasn't enough against the Knicks, who withstood a costly knee injury to first-round pick Iman Shumpert to beat the team that swept them out of the first round of last season's playoffs. Shumpert will miss two to four weeks with a sprained right knee ligament.

Pierce has a bruised right heel but hopes he can return Tuesday when the Celtics visit the Miami Heat.

Even without him, the Celtics fought back to tie it at 69 on Rondo's layup midway through the third quarter. They surged ahead by eight going into the final period after Bass scored the final six points, then extended it to 89-79 on Bass' jumper to open the fourth.

Anthony, who scored 20 in the second half, tied the game at 100 on a 3-pointer with 3:25 to play. It stayed tight until he was fouled on a drive with 16.3 seconds left, making both for a 106-104 lead. Rondo grabbed the rebound of Marquis Daniels' potential go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Celtics a final chance, but Garnett was off on his jumper, then appeared to shove the Knicks' Bill Walker away.

Coming off their first winning season in a decade, the Knicks added a defensive presence by signing Chandler away from the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and have loftier expectations than they've seen in years. The original NBA schedule had them opening against Miami, but instead they got a chance to see if they've closed the gap against Boston.

"I think we wanted to come out and set the tone early," Stoudemire said. "It's a long year but this game was very important for us to get off to a great start."

Thunder 97, Magic 89

At Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 30 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder win their season opener over the Orlando Magic.

Durant led the league in scoring the past two seasons, including averaging 27.7 last season. On Sunday, he 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.

The Thunder lost to Dallas last year in the Western Conference finals but are expected to one of the top teams this season. They led throughout, including by 18 at the end of the third quarter and really were never in danger of losing. Meanwhile, the Magic looked like a team that was still dealing with the distraction of Howard and his trade demands, which dominated headlines in Orlando since the lockout ended.

NBA commissioner David Stern weighed in on the Howard situation Sunday, saying before the game, "That's the beauty of the soap opera. How it plays out, we'll wait and see."

Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins did a good job on Howard. The Magic's star center averaged more than 22 points per game last year, shooting 59 percent for the season.

He did have 15 rebounds.

A 13-2 run in the second quarter, after Durant and Russell Westbrook checked back in, helped the Thunder get out to a 17-point lead. They led 55-41 at the break. Durant had 14 points in the first half. Ryan Anderson scored 25 points and Jameer Nelson added 18 for the Magic, who shot just 37 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers.

Clippers 105, Warriors 86

At Oakland, Calif., prize acquisition Chris Paul had 20 points and nine assists in his much-anticipated Clippers debut, Blake Griffin added 22 points and seven rebounds and Los Angeles beat the Golden State Warriors to spoil Mark Jackson's opener as a first-time coach.

Monta Ellis had 15 points and eight assists after his grandmother's death earlier in the day in Mississippi and David Lee added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who cut the Clippers' lead to 78-77 with 9:35 left on Brandon Rush's 3-pointer before Los Angeles pulled away.

It was hardly a spectacular opener for CP3 and Co., though coach Vinny Del Negro certainly will take methodical any day. These new-look Clippers hope to shine as Los Angeles' other NBA team, perhaps no longer the Lakers' stepchild.

Paul — who nearly wound up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers before the NBA nixed the trade — teamed with Chauncey Billups and Griffin for the first time since coming to the Clippers in a Dec. 14 trade from New Orleans.

Billups scored 21 points with a key 3-pointer late for Los Angeles, which plays at San Antonio on Wednesday before returning for four in a row and seven of eight at Staples Center.

Paul had an unspectacular first half: seven points on 1-for-6 shooting in 19 minutes. But he came on with several clutch baskets in the waning minutes to finish 7 for 12.

Each time the Warriors got close, Los Angeles found an answer.

Andris Biedrins scored on a running hook with 6:51 left to cut the Clippers' lead to 82-81, then Mo Williams came through moments later. Caron Butler's 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter gave the Clippers the first double-digit lead of the game at 63-53.

Many fans among the sellout crowd of 19,596 at revamped Oracle Arena wore Warriors Santa hats, while the Clippers got into the holiday spirit with bright green socks to go with their bright red uniforms. Billups added matching green shoes to his game ensemble.

Jackson, who hadn't coached at any level after a successful playing career, appreciated longtime friends Chris Mullin, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen handling the broadcast for the final opener on Christmas.