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So close, yet so far. Then so close again. Then a little farther away. That’s how the Celtics/Heat game went Wednesday, as the Celtics won a 112-106 overtime thriller. The game, which featured the returns of Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, started out close and remained that way until the 4th quarter.
After trading buckets early, the Heat built a 13-7 lead which was quickly reduced to 13-13 thanks to Rasheed Wallace. The Heat kept building, but Wallace and Ray Allen scoring critical threes kept the Celtics in it, with the Heat up 35-30 after the 1st quarter.
The 2nd quarter saw much of the same back and forth action, including a breakaway by Glen Davis, which was promptly turned over on an errant pass out of bounds; that would unfortunately be a major theme of the night. Miami’s Joel Anthony was allowed an easy dunk, and Brian Scalabrine missed a wide open shot, again. Pierce hit a three and Perkins dunked to keep the Celtics in the game, and Ray Allen got his fourth steal of the game which translated into a Rondo lay-up. With all this action, there were fouls aplenty as both teams fought each other over rebounds and passes; 12 fouls were called in the last five minutes of the half, the end of which saw the Heat leading 57-54.
More turnovers would arise in the 3rd quarter, notably when Rondo tried his patented behind-the-back pass, to Wallace, who bobbled it out of bounds. A Kendrick Perkins to Tony Allen pass almost ended the same way. The Celtics still managed a 69-61 lead, which Miami reduced to 71-70 with a run of their own. Specifically, a 17-6 run put Miami up 78-75 with one quarter to go.
In the 4th quarter, all the Celtics’ mistakes finally caught up with them. The Heat led 85-77 with 9:48 left, and stretched it to 89-78 with 7:34 left, after a 28-9 run. Not to be outdone, the Celtics surged back, cutting the lead to 91-85 with 5:49 left. That momentum was killed with two consecutive Miami offensive rebounds, the first of which looked suspiciously like an airball as the shot clock expired, at 4:39 left. Ray Allen’s deep three later on cut the lead to 91-88 with 4:23 left, and Wallace’s three tied the game at 93 with 2:54 left.
The Celtics then took command once more, with Rondo’s lay-up taking a 95-93 lead with 2:03 left. The Celtics had a golden opportunity when Quentin Richardson was called for a technical foul for arguing a blocking foul he committed against Paul Pierce; the result was a 96-93 lead with 1:35 left. Ray Allen’s three put the Celtics up by four with 53.1 seconds left.
After the Heat cut the lead to two, Paul Pierce had a good chance to put the game away; he had a teammate wide open, but instead put up a lazy scoop shot lay-up which was easily picked off, resulting a necessitated foul which tied the game at 99 with 5.5 seconds left after Miami made the free throws. With tough defense for the inbound pass, Dwayne Wade came up with a major steal, breakaway, and dunk to give the Heat a 101-99 lead with 0.6 seconds left.
The Celtics responded with a brilliant play, sending in a small group of five to throw the Heat off, then Pierce threw a perfect inbounds pass, which Rondo put in for a lay-up on the alley-oop to send the game to overtime. At that point, the Heat had attempted 30 (thirty, treinta, XXX) more field goals than the Celtics, but still couldn’t win it.
Still with me? Good. Overtime picked up where regulation left off, with Wade dunking following a poor pass by Rondo. Still, that was about all the Heat could do, as the Celtics took a 108-103 lead with 59.4 seconds left. With 51.3 seconds left, the Celtics handed Wade a three, cutting the lead to two. That gave Wade 44 points on the night, which was the first time someone scored 40+ against the Celtics since Kobe Bryant in January 2007.
With 34.3 seconds left, Rondo hit a lay-up to put Boston back up by four, 110-106. A rebound battle, in which Miami knocked the ball out of bounds, with 19.7 seconds left, sealed Miami’s fate. They did not foul and Boston was allowed to bask in their glory after a hard fought and improbable win. Not a bad win to have going on to face Harry Hawk in Atlanta on Friday.
Rondo not only sent the game into overtime, but led the Celtics in scoring and time played, and had seven free throws to boot.
He may have gotten four rebounds, but all Scal really did in 11:42 was miss two shots. The last time he actually scored a point was around the time dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Scal’s biggest contribution was talking Rasheed Wallace down after getting hot headed after fouling out.
“We had in in our hands, then literally gave it back, and then for us to just keep believing…” – Doc Rivers on the ebbs and flows of the game.