Rajon Rondo posted a stat line never before seen in NBA playoff history. He was on the court for every second of a game that finished more than three hours after it started. He scored more points in a single overtime than anyone this season.
His night was called incredible, amazing and unbelievable – and that was by the Miami Heat.
And when it was over, Rondo could only express disappointment that the Boston Celtics needed more.
LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 23 points in overtime and the Heat took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-111 win over the Celtics on Wednesday night, overcoming what will surely go down as the best game of Rondo’s career to move within six wins of an NBA title.
”We lost,” Rondo said, shrugging off talk of the historical ramifications of his night. ”Simple as that.”
Rondo’s final numbers: 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds. He scored all 12 of Boston’s overtime points, giving the Celtics the lead three times, only to have the Heat answer each of those. And when he finally missed in the extra session – on a play where Rondo said he got struck in the face by Wade – then and only then could Miami put Boston away.
Game 3 is Friday night in Boston, where the Celtics will try to make this a series. No Celtics team has successfully rallied from an 0-2 hole since 1969.
— Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press
LeBron James led the Heat with 34 points. He was 7 of 20 from the field but made 18 of 24 from the free-throw line to offset his struggles from the field. The Heat was 31 of 47 from the line (66 percent) while Boston was 26 of 29.
“The performance [Rondo] put on tonight will go down in the record books,” James said. “It was exciting to be a part of it and to win.”
Dwyane Wade had 23 points, scoring 21 after the first half, and Mario Chalmers had another postseason breakout game, going 8 of 16 from the field for 22 points.
“It was exhausting,” Wade said. “We never should have dug ourselves that big a hole, but give [Boston] credit.”
It was a steal by Chalmers, perhaps the Heat’s craftiest defender, that set up Wade’s three-point play with 59.7 seconds left in overtime. The acrobatic bucket and continuation free throw put the Heat ahead by five points. From there, James and Wade made just enough at the free-throw line — a combined 4 of 5 — to hold off the Celtics.
— Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald
The Celtics lost captain Paul Pierce, who fouled out in the final minute of regulation, and reserves Pietrus and Keyon Dooling fouled out in overtime.
“LeBron James took 24 free throws and our team took 29,’’ Rivers said. “Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It’s just tough. But listen, we’ve just got to keep playing. I tell my guys, ‘doesn’t matter.’ We can’t get distracted. We will not get distracted in this series.
“I guarantee you right now they’re distracted, in the locker room. But we have to get it out of us and move on. Whatever happened, happened, and we’re just going to move on and play the next game.
“It’s corny, but they’ve won two games at home. And now we go to a place that we’re very comfortable in, and we have to win two games at home. And then we’ll see from there.’’
— Reported by Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe
Rondo played the full 53 minutes, providing a career-high 44 points with eight rebounds and 10 assists — a combination of levels never reached by anyone in a playoff game. Ever.
But Rondo couldn’t provide the Bostonians with the victory that they so sorely needed, and was within their grasp. Miami pulled away for a 115-111 triumph in overtime, leaving Rondo defeated but unbowed.
“It’s irrelevant,” he said. “We lost. It’s as simple as that.”
Not quite, for even in the extra period when he should have had nothing left, he went for 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds after Paul Pierce and Mickael Pietrus had fouled out.
“I felt fine,” Rondo said. “It was a mental grind for me individually and for us as a team. Kevin (Garnett) played extra minutes (45). We all did. There’s no turning back. It’s the conference finals. I wanted to play every minute. I thought I didn’t hurt my team by me playing every minute. I wanted to go out there and continue to do my best for my team.”
— Reported by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald