Rings, a banner, a win: Heat top Celtics 120-107

LeBron James limped off with leg cramps two times in the second

half.

He wasn’t worried about the outcome. By now, he knows the depth

of the Miami Heat roster. And on ring night, there was no way the

reigning NBA champions were going to have their party spoiled.

Dwyane Wade scored 29 points, James finished with 26 points and

10 rebounds despite spending parts of the third and fourth quarters

hydrating in the locker room, and the Heat beat the Boston Celtics

120-107 Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.

”A night that we won’t forget,” James said.

That’s true, for a lot of reasons.

There were actual fireworks before the game to close the

ceremony where the Heat got their championship rings and raised

their title banner. There also were plenty of figurative fireworks

late, first with Boston almost digging out of a 19-point hole and,

after the outcome was decided, Rajon Rondo flagrantly fouling Wade

by wrapping his arms around his neck on a drive.

In the end, though, the first Celtics-Heat matchup of this

season was like the final one of last season – with Miami

winning.

”It was good to cap this night off with a win,” Heat coach

Erik Spoelstra said.

Chris Bosh was dominant late, finishing with 19 points and 10

rebounds. Allen scored 19 points – needing only seven field goal

attempts – in his first game with the Heat since leaving Boston

over the summer.

Allen got chants from the Heat crowd, which is nothing new.

Except this time, they were positive.

”Never thought I’d hear that here,” Allen said.

Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Rondo finished with 20 points and

13 assists, and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 for Boston. The Celtics,

who lost to the Heat in last season’s Eastern Conference finals,

were not on the court for the ring ceremony.

They almost wrecked the festive mood with a late comeback.

An 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter got Boston within 111-107

on Courtney Lee’s layup with 2:09 left. That was the last Celtics’

hurrah – Bosh scored the game’s next seven points, sealing it for

Miami.

”I thought they were the aggressor the whole game,” Celtics

coach Doc Rivers said. ”They got on the floor where they wanted to

get on the floor. They took us out of stuff that they wanted

to.”

Rashard Lewis scored 10 points for Miami, which held on even

while James, last season’s MVP of both the regular season and NBA

Finals, dealt with cramps, first in his right leg and then his

left.

”It’s not an all-the-time thing,” James said. ”I’m not too

worried about it.”

The Heat got their championship rings from owner Micky Arison

before the game, then watched the banner get hoisted to the

rafters. More emotion came late, when Wade drove past Rondo – and

the Celtics guard grabbed Wade around the neck. Wade appeared as

though he was ready to throw the ball at Rondo in retaliation, and

stopped himself.

”I thought he hooked me,” Rondo said.

Wade had a different opinion.

”It was a punk play by him,” Wade said. ”The league will take

care of it. He clotheslined me, with two hands.”

While Rondo raised eyebrows by putting hands on Wade, Kevin

Garnett made news by not offering his hand to Allen.

As Allen entered the game for the first time, he trotted toward

the Boston bench, exchanging a handshake, embrace and a few words

with Rivers, who hasn’t hidden his displeasure about his former

shooting guard’s decision to sign with Miami and didn’t sound

certain before the game how he would react when he saw Allen in

Miami colors. Allen then briskly shook hands with a few assistant

coaches.

But when Allen tried to engage Garnett, the mutual pleasantries

ended. Allen tapped Garnett on the shoulder as he sat on the Boston

bench; Garnett didn’t even flinch, staring straight ahead, refusing

to acknowledge the gesture in any way.

”I was just trying to focus as much as I could. I am such an

intense person,” Garnett said. ”It was a blank. Obviously he’s on

the other side. It’s time to play the game, man.”

Allen didn’t seem flustered. His first shot in a Miami uniform

was – what else? – a corner 3-pointer, which swished.

”He was by himself in the corner,” Rivers said. ”You’d think

we’d know better.”

The first Heat angst of the season came in the third quarter,

when James walked slowly to the bench after a timeout with 4:40

remaining, favoring his right leg and then headed out the tunnel

toward the locker room.

When he left, Miami led 79-70.

When he returned to open the fourth quarter, the lead was 93-76.

The Heat scored the final eight points of the third, with Bosh,

Allen, Mario Chalmers and Lewis all scoring in the final 2:17 to

give the Heat their biggest lead of the game.

James – who dealt with cramps in last season’s NBA Finals –

opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to extend the run to 10-0,

and Miami seemed well on its way. But he returned to the locker

room a short time later, the cramps having flared up again.

”Once you start cramping, there’s nothing you can do about

it,” James said.

Nonetheless, the Heat found a way to finish without the MVP.

”This was a great night,” James said.

NOTES: Wade passed the 15,000-point mark for his career early in

the second quarter, becoming the 123rd player in NBA history to

reach that mark, according to STATS LLC. … Rondo had at least 10

assists for the 25th straight regular-season game. … The Celtics

allowed 62 points in the first half; they gave up 62 or more only

seven times in 379 regular-season and playoff games over the past

four seasons. … Miami players wore sneakers with gold somewhere

in the color scheme; James’ were primarily gold – in honor of the

ring – and trimmed in white and red.