Celtics hold on, beat Heat in OT to even up series


Celtics hold on, beat Heat in OT to even up series

BOSTON Another overtime game, a much different outcome for the Boston Celtics.

A playoff home loss last year in overtime put the Celtics in a playoff deficit to the Heat that they could not dig themselves from under.

Much different result on Sunday as the Celtics managed to hold on for a 93-91 overtime win against the Heat that ties the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Game 5 will be in Miami, with the winner of that having an opportunity to advance to the NBA Finals in Boston for Game 6.

Miami's Dwyane Wade, who had 20 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the field, tried to put the game away in overtime with a step-back 3-pointer that rimmed in and out as time expired.

Rajon Rondo had yet another big-game performance for the C's, tallying 15 points to go with 15 assists.

And Paul Pierce had 23 points before he fouled out in overtime.

LeBron James, who led all scorers with 29 points, also fouled out with less than two minutes to play in overtime.

Both teams had several opportunities both in the fourth quarter and overtime to take control of the game, only to see those efforts - much like many of their shots - come up short.

Boston led by as many as 18 points but soon found themselves in a nail-biter after a lay-up by James tied the game at 74 and moments later, Norris Cole - yeah, Norris Cole - put the Heat ahead for the first time all night, 76-74, with a driving lay-up.

Both teams continued to go back and fourth with neither establishing a strong sense of control.

Miami was living at the free throw line, but dying a slow death as they continued clank one free throw after another. For the game, they were 17-for-24. The C's were even worse, connecting on 14 of their 20 attempts (70 percent).

This game's ending was a sharp contrast from its beginnings.

The Celtics could not have scripted a better start to the game, with an 8-2 start followed by a 13-7 spurt that gave the Celtics a commanding 21-9 lead about midway through the first quarter.

With so much attention paid to Kevin Garnett coming in, the Big Ticket morphed into the Big Decoy as Pierce, Rondo and Brandon Bass combined for 27 of the C's 34 first-quarter points. Bass finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

But the Celtics are all about defense, and their defense was pretty good for long stretches - but probably not as good as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers would have liked.

For Celtics Nation, a 34-23 lead after the first quarter is something to feel good about. Rivers' concerns probably stemmed from the fact that the Heat were still relatively close despite the Celtics outplaying them in just about every statistical category that mattered.

Boston's control didn't let up in the second quarter, with the Celtics' bench once again coming up with timely contributions.

Keyon Dooling had a pair of 3-pointers early in the second quarter as the C's were able to maintain a double-digit cushion in part because of their ability to double-team Wade akin to what the did in their Game 3 win. He finished with 10 of the Celtics's 11 points off the bench.

To put Wade's first-half in perspective, he had eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

All five Boston starters had at least eight points scored at the half which ended with the Celtics ahead, 61-47.