BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics found the formula to snap out
of their slump: strong defense and weak opponents.
They beat the Miami Heat 90-62 Wednesday night, their third
straight win after six consecutive losses. The other two victories
came against Cleveland, the NBA's worst team.
"Sometimes you need those teams to come along," Boston's Tony
Delk said. "Regardless of who the opponent is, you've got to win.
You can't take those teams for granted."
The Celtics showed that when they lost at Denver, which has the
second-worst record, during the losing streak. Against Miami, the
team with the third-worst record, the Celtics kept the pressure on
from start to finish.
They never trailed, led by at least seven points for all but the
first 10 minutes and by at least 15 throughout the second half.
Their biggest lead was 88-52 with 5:02 left before a 10-2 Miami run
cut the final margin to 28 points.
"It was a great defensive effort by everybody. There was a lot
of energy," Boston's Antoine Walker said.
Paul Pierce scored 28 points for Boston as the Heat tied their
lowest-scoring game of the season and scored fewer than 70 points
for the eighth time.
The Celtics face much tougher competition in their next game,
Friday night against Sacramento.
"You can't compare Miami to Sacramento," Pierce said. "We've
just got to come out and play with the same type of intensity."
The Celtics had 12 steals and four blocks, and held the Heat to
35-percent shooting. Miami made just four of five free throws and
went to the line for the first time with 8:42 left in the third
"It is beyond humiliating,'' Miami coach Pat Riley said. "They
were so much better. We were outclassed, outreached. We don't have
many of these games, but their defense was great."
The Heat, the NBA's second-lowest scoring team, matched their
season low in a 93-62 loss to Detroit on Feb. 17, their most
lopsided of the season.
"Embarrassing, no other way to put it," Miami's Brian Grant
said. "This was the worst performance all year."
The 62 points were the second-fewest allowed by the Celtics, who
beat Denver 77-58 on Jan. 24. But the Celtics had the advantage of
three days of practice after Saturday's win in Cleveland.
"Basketball is all about energy, defense and toughness, and I
thought we showed that," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said.
The score was 35-28 before the Celtics scored the last 11 points
of the first half for a 46-28 lead. Miami scored just 10 points in
the second quarter.
The Heat closed the gap to 55-40 with an 8-0 run, but the
Celtics regained control with an 18-2 surge, led by Pierce's nine
points. That made it 73-42 before LaPhonso Ellis got the next
basket, leaving Boston with a 29-point lead entering the fourth
Miami matched the Celtics in rebounding, 44-44, as Grant had 12
and Stepania 11. But the Heat turned the ball over 22 times to just
eight for the Celtics.
"Other than Caron, we didn't have anybody that could make any
plays," Riley said.
The Celtics had plenty as all 12 players had rebounds and nine
"Despite having a big lead, I felt our bench continued the way
the guys that played the most did," O'Brien said.
Boston C Tony Battie played after missing the previous four
games with a sore right knee. ... Butler returned after missing one
game with a sore left knee. ... Boston point guard J.R. Bremer led
his team with eight rebounds.