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Celtics dig a hole, and Miami buries 'em

12/28/2002

MIAMI (AP) -- The Boston Celtics' worst shooting night didn't
come from a lack of opportunities.

''I thought that we had tremendous looks at the basket
tonight,'' Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "They did not fall for
us. We missed shots that we normally make.''

Boston shot just 27.8 from the field -- 22-for-79 -- and Eddie
Jones scored 28 points and reserve Vladimir Stepania had 14 points
and 14 rebounds as the Miami Heat beat the Celtics 90-70 Friday
night.

''Our guys made the pass, they put it on the money, and we just
did not put the ball in the basket,'' O'Brien said.

Travis Best added 13 points, and Brian Grant had 12 rebounds for
Miami, which beat the Celtics for the second time in nine days.

''This has been going on for the last four to five games now,
where we dig ourselves a hole, and somehow we have to get out of
it,'' said Paul Pierce, who had 19 points. ''We are playing hard,
but we are just not competing at the level that we need to.''

Antoine Walker scored 16 points for Boston, but he was 5-for-21
from the field, and only 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Walker is in a
3-for-26 3-point shooting slump.

''It's tough,'' Walker said. ''It's one of those nights where
you want everything to go down because you dream about having
opportunities like this when you can get in the lane and find guys.

''They made their shots and we missed ours. I think myself and
other guys on the team are not making shots and that has affected
other parts of our game.''

Miami has won four of its past seven, by far its best
stretch of the season.

''The key for us to turn this around is winning games at home,''
Heat coach Pat Riley said. ''We have the worst home record in the
league, so if we are going to do anything, we will have to win at
home.''

Heat players aren't getting carried away with their recent
success. After all, the team is still 10-19.

''We are playing better, but there's a lot more growth that
needs to happen to show that we can win at home,'' Grant said.

Miami was 6-for-9 on 3-pointers, while the Celtics were only
4-for-26.

The Celtics' previous shooting low was 28.6, also in a defeat to
the Heat on Jan. 4, 2002.

Miami took a 55-41 halftime lead, led by Jones' 20 points.

The Celtics closed to seven by the end of the third quarter,
but a 16-3 run by the Heat in the first six minutes of the fourth
quarter put it away for the Heat.

It was O'Brien's first defeat in Miami since taking over as coach
of the Celtics in January 2001.

Game notes
The Celtics' 18-11 record is identical to their record
after 29 games last season. ... Coming in, the Celtics led the
league in 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted. Tony Delk and
Walker combined for 139 3-pointers made, 11 more than the entire
Heat team. ... The Celtics were forced to delay their scheduled
flight to Miami after their Wednesday night defeat in New Jersey
because of a snowstorm. They were able to leave Thursday.