NBA Game Summary - Miami at Boston
(Wednesday, March 18th)
Final Score: Boston 112, Miami 108 (OT)
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce scored 21 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, as Boston clinched its second straight Atlantic Division title with a 112-108 victory over Miami at TD Banknorth Garden.
The Atlantic Division champions put out a shell unit on Wednesday, searching for bodies able and ready to play. Ray Allen has an elbow injury and may miss some time, Leon Powe is bothered by a right knee ailment and Kevin Garnett missed his 13th straight game with a knee strain.
Yet, the wins keep coming for the defending NBA champions thanks to Pierce, who logged over 47 minutes, grabbed 11 rebounds and also dished out five assists one day after pouring home 37 in a loss to Chicago.
"Pierce really made it tough," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "He was scoring on every one of our matchups. Before we could even come over to help he was shooting the pull-up jump shot, one dribble over the top."
Rajon Rondo also carried a heavy load, spending a little more than 47 minutes on the floor, while scoring 27 points to go along with 10 assists. Boston improved to 7-6 without Garnett and snapped a two-game skid.
"It almost came down to that we had Paul and they didn't have Wade," stated Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins provided valuable scoring depth, scoring 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Boston wasn't the only team missing its stars. Miami played without Dwyane Wade, who sat on the bench in a suit thanks to a hip injury. In Wade's absence, rookies Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley stepped up. Beasley recorded 21 points with seven rebounds, while Chalmers added 19 points and nine assists. Jermaine O'Neal was the veteran presence, notching 17 points with five boards and six assists.
The Heat have dropped two in a row.
Overtime was a house of horrors for the Heat. House's three some 40 seconds in started the scoring, then about one minute later, Pierce caught the ball on the right baseline, stepped back beyond the arc and threw a dagger straight through the net. Rondo's driving layup as the shot clock ticked towards zero moments later made it an eight-point game.
The Heat missed their first six shots of overtime before Chalmers' three with 1:54 to play cut the deficit to 108-103.
Chalmers' second trey of the extra session made the score 109-106 with about 44 seconds left. House sank 1-of-2 free throws with 12 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 110-106. Pierce's two free throws with 5.4 seconds to go iced the contest.
The Celtics shot 68 percent in the first quarter to build a 34-21 lead. A 6-6 tie quickly became a double-digit Celtics lead after an 11-0 spurt. Rondo tallied six of the points, including the jumper that opened a 17-6 advantage.
Rondo's two free throws nearing the conclusion of the period pushed the edge to 30-15. However, the second quarter was an entirely different story. Luther Head's three cut the deficit to 36-31 -- capping a 16-6 spurt spanning parts of both periods. Miami reeled off nine consecutive points later in the quarter to take a 46-45 lead following Daequan Cook's trey.
The Heat held a 54-49 edge at the half.
After the wild momentum swings in the first two periods, the final two frames in regulation stayed close to the vest.
Trailing 77-74 entering the fourth stanza, Pierce immediately converted a driving layup, and back-to-back buckets by Rondo several minutes later put the Celtics back in front, 85-84. After James Jones tied the game at 88 with a short jumper, it was Perkins who put the home team ahead with a layup in traffic.
Miami tallied the next five points with Chalmers absorbing heavy contact in the lane while making the running bank shot. He drained the subsequent free throw then O'Neal's basket made the score 93-90.
House entered with a clutch three-pointer before Beasley's driving layup again gave the Heat a two-point advantage. Pierce's three and O'Neal's face-up basket were the results of the next two possessions before Pierce struck again with a mid-range jumper for a 98-97 lead.
Chalmers converted on a running layup with 1:37 on the clock, and again it was Pierce who scored for the Celtics, stopping on the spot and burying another mid-range jumper.
The Kansas product Chalmers -- a 77 percent foul shooter on the season -- made just 1-of-2 free throws with 20.7 ticks remaining to tie the game at 100, and on the final possession, Pierce dribbled left against a clearly-shown double team, pulled up and rimmed out a potential game-winner as time expired.
Miami shot 47.8 percent from the floor, while Boston connected on 54.9 percent of its shots...The clean game included a total of 19 turnovers and 59 assists...Boston has won three straight in the series.
03/18 23:24:01 ET