Rapid Reaction: Heat 115, C's 111 (OT)
MIAMI -- Rapid reaction after the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 115-111 in overtime during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. (Miami leads the series, 2-0).
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 44 points on 16-of-24 shooting, producing the best shooting game of his career as he thrived from beyond 15 feet, and did all he could to try to will Boston to victory while adding 10 assists and 8 rebounds and playing the entire 53 minutes. Unfortunately, it will be a missed layup -- or, more accurately, a missed call by the officials late in overtime -- that will temper the performance. LeBron James paced Miami by registering 34 points (despite 7-of-20 shooting), 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Dwyane Wade overcame a slow start to kick in 23 points, while Mario Chalmers picked up the slack early and chipped in 22 points. Paul Pierce added 21 points for Boston, but fouled out late in regulation (one of three Boston players who finished with six fouls).
Rondo scored the first six points for Boston in overtime, but (justifiably) lost his composure for a minute at a tough time. Rondo wasn't pleased with a non-call on a strong drive to the rim that ended with a missed layup late in overtime. He was late getting back up the floor and the Heat got an easy Udonis Haslem dunk with Boston disheveled on defense. Rondo needed to be restrained by coach Doc Rivers to prevent him from continuing to bark at the officials during a timeout. The Heat forced a turnover on the next possession and Wade went hard to the basket off a pick-and-roll with James, muscling in a layup and drawing a foul on Garnett. Wade made the free throw -- no small task on a night the Heat missed 16 freebies (31-for-47) -- for a 110-105 cushion with 59.7 seconds to go. Not even a couple of Rondo 3-pointers could make it a game again.
The wheels looked like they were about to fall off for the Celtics in the third quarter and, while they'd later recover, the car did hit a bit of a brick wall. With the Heat already having scored 13 straight points to erase a seven-point deficit, Pierce drove hard from the left wing only for James -- helping off of Rondo -- to deliver a monster right-handed swat. Wade corralled the ball and went the other way, muscling up a layup over Keyon Dooling and drawing a foul. With the free throw, Miami was out front 78-71 with 1:35 to play in the quarter.
CELTICS FIGHT BACK AFTER KG TECH
The Celtics have had an uncanny ability to produce some inspired ball after Garnett draws a questionable foul (we saw it last round in Game 4 against the 76ers). Garnett drew a head-scratching technical after getting fouled by James Jones with 10 minutes to go in the game. The Celtics were down six at that point, but a 9-0 burst, highlighted by a Mickael Pietrus 3-pointer, got Boston out front 88-85 with under seven minutes to go.
After surging ahead, the Celtics managed to maintain a five-point cushion with less than three minutes to go. A pair of James free throws and a monster 3-pointer from Shane Battier evened the game at 94 with 2:19 to go. The Heat went up by four, but an inability to hit free throws (Wade missed a big one after Pierce fouled out in a two-point game with 47.7 seconds to go) gave Boston an opportunity to hang around and the Heat somehow lost Ray Allen, who drilled a right-wing 3-pointer to tie the game at 99 with 34.3 seconds to go. An offensive rebound gave the Heat a chance to win it at the buzzer after James missed a layup, but his long jumper from the right wing was off target, sending the game to overtime.
RONDO'S DAZZLING FIRST HALF PACES BOSTON
Rondo was in takeover mode in the first half, registering 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and getting to the free throw line 10 times (this after not getting to the stripe in Game 1). He added seven of Boston's eight assists and grabbed four rebounds while playing all 24 minutes. The only downside: His counterpart, Chalmers, countered with 14 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, and the Heat used a late burst to trim a 15-point deficit down to seven at the intermission. Miami shot a mere 36.6 percent (15-for-41) and Wade mustered just two points on 1-of-6 shooting over 18:22. But it was a late first-half rally that ultimately allowed Miami to crawl back in the game.
C'S TOOK FOOT OFF GAS BEFORE INTERMISSION
The Celtics were up 47-32 with four minutes to play in the first half, but mustered just one field goal the rest of the way. Chalmers, shouldering the first-half load, hit a pair of 3-pointers and Wade converted his first bucket of the first half as Miami trimmed its deficit to seven at the intermission. Despite all the good Boston did in the first half, particularly Rondo, it felt like the Heat had weathered the storm and were poised for a third-quarter burst.
WHAT IT MEANS
It's unfortunate that the lack of a late whistle on Rondo's overtime drive will likely temper what should be remembered as the finest offensive game of his career. Rondo put the Celtics in position to win this game and steal home-court advantage. Instead, the Celtics are staring at a bit of a death sentence. Teams that have trailed 2-0 in best-of-seven series have lost 94.3 percent (14-232) of the time. Boston can make the case that Miami simply held serve at home, but the pressure is on them to do the same in Games 3 and 4. The Celtics could have made things interesting by stealing this one, but now they've got to figure out a way to regroup before the series shifts to TD Garden on Friday night.
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