First impressions: Celtics 112, Heat 106
How the game was won: In a game the Celtics had no business winning, Rajon Rondo converted an improbable inbounds alley-oop from Paul Pierce for a buzzer-beating lay-in that forced overtime. From there Boston used a trio of Rondo buckets to emerge with a gutsy win. Rondo, back in the lineup after a one-game absence because of a sore left hamstring, finished with a team-high 26 points, while Ray Allen (22 points, 3-of-4 3-pointers) and Kendrick Perkins (20 points, 10 rebounds) helped the Celtics emerge.
How the game nearly wasn't won: The Celtics tried mightily to give the game to the Heat by committing a season-high 26 turnovers, while allowing Miami to register 17 offensive rebounds and take 98 shots overall. After Boston rallied from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit, the game was tied when Ray Allen got stripped by Dwyane Wade near midcourt in the final seconds of regulation, leading to an uncontested dunk with 0.6 seconds to play for what seemed to be the winning points. But Boston wouldn't go quietly.
Turning point: Pierce, playing his first game since missing five in a row with a right knee infection, lobbed a perfect alley-oop feed to Rondo, who was curling to the basket and had a defender chasing. Rondo leaped and converted the layup at the buzzer to force the extra session. Not only was it the Play of 2010, but it will challenge Eddie House's behind-the-back save / Tony Allen dunk for the top play of the season.
Stat of the game: The Heat took 31 more shots than the Celtics, but connected on just 40.8 percent (40 of 98) and the Celtics took advantage of their frequent trips to the charity stripe (33 of 41, 80.5 percent).
Unsung heroes: Pierce connected on 4 of 12 shots in his first game back, but registered 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, a block and -- perhaps most notably -- a game-high plus-14 in the plus/minus as part of a solid all-around effort that underscored just how valuable Boston's captain is.
What it means: One of the biggest wins of a still-young season; the type of win that could ignite the Celtics after some recent struggles out west. Boston, still without Kevin Garnett, got an emotional boost by getting Pierce and Rondo back. But to rally from double digits, while playing some rusty basketball, showed again just how creative this team can be in finding ways to win. Rondo continues to emerge as a superstar despite playing on a hamstring that's still not 100 percent.
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