AP Basketball Writer
BOSTON (AP) -- When the New York Knicks finally returned to the playoffs two years ago, the Boston Celtics let them hang around for only four games.
Now Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are on the verge of beating Boston, and they want to do it just as quickly.
Anthony scored 26 points and the Knicks moved to the brink of their first playoff series victory in 13 years, routing the Celtics 90-76 on Friday night in Game 3 of the first-round series.
"It feels good to be sitting in this seat, this situation, to be sitting in the driver's seat right now," Anthony said. "So it's just a matter of us just doing what we've got to do Sunday. We want to close the deal, we want to seal the deal."
Quickly taking the crowd out of it in the first NBA game here since the Boston Marathon bombings, the Knicks built a 16-point halftime lead and now can take out the Celtics.
"That first quarter on the road, you've got to make sure you take that first punch and we did that," Knicks veteran Jason Kidd said.
Raymond Felton added 15 points and 10 assists for the Knicks, who haven't advanced in the playoffs since reaching the 2000 Eastern Conference finals. Game 4 is here Sunday afternoon.
"Guys are hungry," Anthony said. "We really want this, we feel like it's right there in the palm of our hands."
They'll have to hope they have J.R. Smith, who inexplicably threw an elbow right into Jason Terry's face with 7:06 left and was thrown out of the game with a flagrant foul 2, an automatic ejection. The league office will review the play and can fine or suspend Smith.
Pablo Prigioni gave the Knicks a boost with three early 3-pointers as the Knicks positioned themselves to avenge their first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics in 2011. Boston hasn't been by swept since 2004, by Indiana.
The Knicks were also swept that year, by the Nets, as part of their NBA-record, 13-game postseason losing streak.
Jeff Green scored 21 points for the Celtics, who will try to become the first NBA team to win a series after trailing 3-0. They own the most titles in league history, but their present outlook is extremely bleak.
"I didn't think we showed up not to play well," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought overall our effort was there, I thought we did lose our spirit early on."
Fans cheered the responders who helped after the marathon but booed the Celtics, who managed only 31 points in the first two quarters, getting their bad half out of the way early this time. They had been held to 25 and 23 points after halftime while dropping the two games in New York.
Smith finished with 15 points for the Knicks, who are loaded with veterans who've had playoff success the franchise hadn't in recent years and weren't fazed by the pregame atmosphere. Once the game started, they simply outplayed the Celtics, as they have while going 6-1 against them dating the regular season.
"We came in here believing that we could win this basketball game and we did it," Anthony said. "It was a total team effort."
Everything went perfectly for the Knicks until Smith, while holding the ball on offense with a huge lead, decided to throw his elbow right into Terry's face. Terry charged after him but was stopped by Rivers, while Knicks coach Mike Woodson appeared to be lecturing Smith before the Sixth Man of the Year was sent off.
"He'll learn from it. I don't think he was trying to hurt the kid, I thought he was trying to clear space, but hey, they saw it differently," Woodson said. "I'm going to stay in his ear and make sure he learns from it."
There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims, and that was the last time it was quiet for a while. First responders and other personnel were greeted with loud cheers as they were brought onto the floor during timeouts, and a tribute to the city's strength played on the overhead video board during a first-quarter stoppage.
But the Knicks' dominance wore down even the most spirited supporters, just the way LeBron James did in his 45-point performance in Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conference finals in the last playoff game here.
Rivers said he was aware of some of his team's shortcomings, with the absence of Rajon Rondo leaving the Celtics without a point guard. But Rivers -- himself a former point guard -- couldn't have imagined his team would be this unable to get into an offense, finishing with 18 turnovers that led to 26 Knicks points.