Rapid Reaction: C's 93, Heat 91 (OT, Gm 4)
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 93-91 in overtime Sunday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden. (The series is tied at 2).
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Rajon Rondo fueled Boston with 15 points, 15 assists and 5 rebounds over 47 minutes, while Kevin Garnett chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds. Despite fouling out early in overtime, Paul Pierce scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting. LeBron James scored a game-high 29 points for Miami, while Dwyane Wade kicked in 20 points (but misfired with a chance to win it in overtime).
Overtime didn't feature much in the way of offense, so any scoring proved pivotal. A Udonis Haslem dunk (off a Wade feed) gave Miami the early edge, but Marquis Daniels made a free throw and Rondo hit a little floater for a 92-91 edge. The Celtics had numerous opportunities to extend their lead, but the best they could do was Rondo hitting one of two free throws with 21.4 seconds to go to make it a two-point cushion. That was enough. Wade got a final chance to win it, but his 3-pointer from the top of the arc rattled out.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME
Mickael Pietrus struggled from the floor (0-for-3, 0 points) and he had some head-slapping fouls at times, but he came up with some clutch plays in the extra session. Not only did he draw the offensive foul that ended James' night, but he hauled in two offensive rebounds with around a minute to play. Boston didn't score off of them, but did take time off the clock that prevented Miami from having a chance to rally ahead.
FIRST QUARTER: CELTICS COME FLYING OUT OF THE GATES
Rondo came out in attack mode, generating a pair of early buckets as the Celtics scored the game's first six points (and got the crowd into it). Pierce and Allen made back-to-back 3-pointers, forcing Miami to call timeout down 10 just five minutes in, but the barrage continued with a pair of Garnett buckets to put Boston out front 18-4 with 5:52 to play in the frame. The Celtics shot 59.1 percent overall (13 of 22) and owned a 34-23 advantage after one frame.
SECOND QUARTER: RONDO TECH AS C'S STALL LATE
Rondo put together a brilliant first half, chipping in 8 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds (all while not turning the ball over). About his only misstep: A charge that negated a potential three-point play late in the half. Rondo then picked up a technical foul for kicking at Shane Battier after the play while the two were on the ground. Boston's lead had been as high as 18, but Boston went quiet late. Even still, Rondo got a not-so-subtle jab in at the Heat at halftime (you can get away with that when your team is up 61-47).
THIRD QUARTER: EYESORE FOR THE CELTICS
Everything good that the Celtics did in the first half completely disappeared in the third quarter. Boston mustered a mere 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting and watched its lead get trimmed to five (73-68). Along the way, Dwyane Wade got hot (4-of-6, 9 points in the frame) and you could tell things were about to get even closer in the fourth frame.
FOURTH QUARTER: JAMES 3-POINTER FORCES OT
Boston missed its first five shots and a James layup with 8:53 to play tied the game at 74 (Norris Cole gave the Heat its first lead soon after). A James 3-pointer tied the game at 89 with 37 seconds to play and both teams wasted their final possessions. Garnett got called for an offensive foul for hooking James as Rondo drove to the bucket. Then, with a chance to win it, the Celtics blew up an isolation look for James, forcing him to kick it to Udonis Haslem, who wasn't even close with a desperation jumper.
OVERTIME: PIERCE, JAMES FOUL OUT
Pierce picked up his sixth foul a mere 38 seconds into overtime, leaving Boston without its captain for the extra session. That put Marquis Daniels and Pietrus together on the floor in a crunch-time lineup. Things evened up a bit when Pietrus drew the offensive foul on James, who fouled out with 1:51 to play and the Celtics up 92-91. The Heat didn't score again.
CELEBRITIES! (OR JUST PATRIOTS, REALLY)
The Celtics put up a video montage during a second-quarter timeout showcasing a handful of New England Patriots in attendance, including coach Bill Belichick, (freshly head-shaven) Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Kevin Faulk. Gronkowski must have filmed a crowd pump-up video at the game and it aired midway through the fourth quarter (and he got even more video board time in the extra session).
WHAT IT MEANS
If we're being honest, it should have been a whole lot easier for Boston. The Celtics' offense was nothing short of spectacular for much of the first half, then disappeared for about the final 32 minutes of play. Alas, a win is a win is a win and this series is tied at 2-2. It's now a best-of-three as the series shifts back to South Beach. Boston needs to play crisper ball if it wants to win on the road, where two of those three final games will take place if it goes the duration.
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