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Kevin Garnett‘s24 points and 9 rebounds and Paul Pierce‘s 27 and seven were enough to overcome 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from Lebron James, as the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat, 115-107, Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Celtics now trail the idle Indiana Pacers by just two games for the third spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 15 assists and extended his double-digit assist streak to 18 games. The last player to record double-digit assists in at least 18 games was John Stockton in 1992, when he did it for 29 straight games.
Dwayne Wade scored 20 points for the Heat but was a non-factor for much of the second half. Mario Chalmers had 18 points in the loss – the Heat’s second to the Celtics in the last 10 days. The Celtics beat the Heat in Boston 91-72 on April 1.
Garnett was brilliant in this one. After the Heat cut the deficit to just one field goal early in the fourth quarter, Garnett scored eight straight points to key a 13-3 Celtics run that would ensure victory. A skirmish with Shane Battier – in which both players tumbled to the floor – with nine minutes to play appeared to ignite Garnett on his run.
The Celtics offense hummed Tuesday night. They shot 60 percent from the field and 64 percent from three-point range en route to surpassing their season average for points per game by more than 23 points.
While the stars shone for the Celtics, they also got key contributions from their role players. Avery Bradley scored the first five points of the game for the Celtics and finished with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Greg Stiemsma had eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks, and Sasha Pavlovic drained two threes and recorded a blocked shot in just eight minutes of action.
This was a huge victory for the Celtics, but the road doesn’t get any easier from here, as the team flies back to Boston to host the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night in what could potentially be a first-round playoff preview.