The pass zipped from Carmelo Anthony to Kenyon Martin down low with 40.6 seconds left. Martin was wide open near the hoop. Anthony’s pass, however, was thrown high.

“Terrible pass,” Martin said afterward, good-naturedly. “Melo said thanks for bailing him out.”

Indeed, Martin hauled in Anthony’s high heave and dropped in a layup, putting the Knicks ahead 85-78 and helping to clinch their Game 1 victory over the Celtics Saturday at the Garden. Martin’s bailout was critical as he replaced an ineffective Tyson Chandler.

Returning from a five-game absence because of a sprained ankle, Martin delivered 28 solid minutes, scoring 10 points, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds and blocking two shots — one of them an emphatic rejection of a Jason Terry dunk. Martin was the Knicks’ center in the fourth quarter — not Chandler.

“The way Kenyon was playing, he didn’t deserve to come out,” Chandler said.