Celtics 101, Heat 91
Doc Rivers knew there was little to say to Rajon Rondo after the
Celtics point guard scored a career-best 44 points in Game 2 of the
Eastern Conference finals.
After Boston lost that one, Rivers couldn’t resist offering one
piece of advice: It starts with Kevin Garnett.
”Throw it up in the air, Kevin will go get it,” the Celtics
coach said he told Rondo. ”The only thing we told him offensively
was we had to get Kevin involved. Other than that, just go
Garnett did get involved, scoring 24 points – many of his
baskets off lobs into the paint – and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead
Boston to a 101-91 win over the Heat on Friday night that cut
Miami’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Paul Pierce added 23 points and Rondo followed his Game 2
performance with 21 points and 10 assists to help the Celtics avoid
falling into a 3-0 hole after dropping the first two games in
Game 4 is Sunday night in Boston.
”They defended their home court,” Rondo said. ”In a couple of
days, we’ll do the same.”
LeBron James scored 34 points, but the NBA MVP and the rest of
the Heat went cold during a 7-minute stretch at the end of the
first quarter and the beginning of the second, when Boston went on
a 15-0 run to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
The Celtics extended it to 24 early in the fourth quarter before
Miami cut it to 95-87 with help from three 3-pointers by Mike
Miller. But James had a turnover and missed a 3-point attempt in
the last 2 minutes to squelch the Heat’s hope of a comeback.
”You’re trying to fight back the whole time,” said James, who
scored 16 points in the first quarter but just four with one
rebound and one assist in the fourth. ”We made a run, but it was
Miami still trailed by eight points with the ball when Dwyane
Wade missed and Ray Allen grabbed the rebound, sending Rondo on a
fast break that made it a 99-89 with 1:39 to play. James threw the
ball away underneath, then missed a 3-point attempt the next time
down – one of only four shots he took in the fourth quarter.
Pierce found Garnett for a long jumper at the other end, and the
teams began emptying their benches.
Coming off his 44-point effort in Game 2, in which he played
every second of regulation and overtime, Rondo was 9 for 16 from
the field and grabbed six rebounds. Rivers said there was little he
wanted his point guard to change.
”I’m like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter: you stay away from
that joker,” Rivers said. ”The guy scored 44 points, what can I
possibly tell him?”
Mostly: Get the ball to Garnett.
With Garnett posting up underneath the rim, Boston outscored
Miami 58-46 on points in the paint.
”He (Rivers) kept preaching to just throw it up to him,” Rondo
said. ”They went small, and no one can jump as high as Kevin. He
stood up to the rim, and he went up and got most of them.”
Marquis Daniels led Boston’s reserves with nine points and five
rebounds in 18 minutes.
Wade scored 18 points and Mario Chalmers had 14 points and six
assists for Miami. Shane Battier was scoreless, missing all six
shots, and Ronny Turiaf had three points while tangling with
Garnett under the basket for much of the game.
The Celtics center, appearing rejuvenated during these playoffs
at the age of 36, got called for another technical foul for a
violent elbow but otherwise seemed to be enjoying himself. While
waiting to inbound the ball in the second quarter, he high-fived a
young child sitting courtside in a No. 5 Celtics jersey.
At the other end, after behind slammed hard to the court by
Udonis Haslem, Garnett gingerly rolled over onto his stomach before
extending his arms to ease himself off the court. Down and up he
went, pushing off the floor on his knuckles eight times for some
”I’m getting crap about my form, but I want people to know it’s
because it was on my knuckles,” Garnett said. ”That’s old school.
My uncle taught me to do pushups on my knuckles. That’s some
Wade was 9 for 20 from the field and did not shoot a free throw
in the game. James, who shot 24 free throws in Game 2, making 18,
was 1 for 5 from the line.
James hit seven of his first nine shots, before making one of
the next six. That helped Boston score the last eight points of the
first quarter and the first seven of the second to turn a six-point
deficit into a nine-point lead. Much of it came with Keyon Dooling
and Daniels on the court for Boston.
Notes: During the first timeout, the Celtics acknowledged Boston
Globe columnist Bob Ryan, who is retiring this summer. GM Danny
Ainge was one of the first to stand and applaud. … K.C. Jones,
who was celebrating his 80th birthday, and fellow Celtic great John
Havlicek were in the crowd. … Miami was 10 for 20 from the free