Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo scored 21 points with 10 assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 101-91 victory over the Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday night, cutting Miami’s lead in the series to 2-1.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Boston.
Paul Pierce scored 23 points for Boston.
LeBron James scored 34 points, but the NBA MVP and the rest of the Heat went cold during a 7-minute stretch at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, when Boston outscored them 15-0 to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
James scored 16 points in the first quarter but had just four points with one rebound and one assist in the fourth, when Miami cut a 24-point deficit to eight. Mike Miller hit consecutive 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that cut the deficit to 95-87.
Miami still trailed by eight points, with the ball, when Dwyane Wade missed and Ray Allen grabbed the rebound, sending Rondo on a fast break that made it a 99-89 with 99 seconds to play. James threw the ball away underneath, then missed a 3-point attempt the next time down - one of only four shots he took in the fourth quarter.
Pierce found Garnett for a long jumper at the other end, and the teams began emptying their benches.]
– Reported by Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press
Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and added 11 rebounds as the Celtics made an effort to establish him around the basket early and it aided them in building as much as a 24-point lead. Rajon Rondo added 21 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds, while Paul Pierce kicked in 23 points despite just 7-of-21 shooting over 40 minutes. Boston shot 50 percent (38-of-76) from the floor and dominated on the glass, outrebounding Miami 42-32. LeBron James scored a game-high 34 points on 16-of-26 shooting, but was a bit quiet after a big first quarter. Dwyane Wade chipped in 18 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
A James jumper with 2:15 to play in the first quarter had the Heat out front by six at 28-22, but the Heat would go scoreless for the next 6:47 spanning into the second frame. A 15-0 burst had the Celtics out front 37-28 after a Garnett layup. Despite shooting a mere 27.8 percent (5-of-18) in the second quarter, the Heat stuck around a bit before a 3-pointer by Ray Allen right before the half pushed Boston’s lead to a first-half high 13 points (55-42) and prevented Miami from stealing away any momentum. Boston extended its lead in the third quarter with Garnett on the floor, then held on for dear life as Miami trimmed that 24-point cushion to single digits late in the fourth quarter.
Looking eager to upstage Rondo on the heels of his 44-10-8 effort in Game 2, James came out firing. Not only did he put up 12 shots, but he connected on seven as part of a 16-point first-quarter outburst. It could have been worse; he missed 3 of 4 free throws. The Heat shot 61.1 percent (11-of-18) in the first quarter, but Boston hung around at 60 percent shooting (12-of-20) and actually led 30-28 after the first 12 minutes.
– Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston
Boston got an unexpected spark off the bench late in the first quarter when Doc Rivers called upon the seldom-used Marquis Daniels.
He only scored two points, but his activity on defense and all-around hustle seemed to be just the spark the Celtics were desperately needing.
And defensively, he was actually able to do something none of his teammates have done up to this point in the series - slow down LeBron James.
After making seven of his first nine shots, Daniels’ defense was instrumental in James missing three of his next four shots.
– Reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE
LeBron finished with 34 points, but that came with a strange asterisk. He had 16 in the first quarter, and it looked like the start of something good for the Heat. Instead, it represented something else.
His teammates stood around watching him. The offense became him only. Wade, as is happening regularly, couldn’t get going in the first half. He had an inefficient six points on nine shots.
And, let’s face it, when Wade isn’t joining LeBron on a big night the Heat has little chance. Wade finished with 18 points, but the game had drifted away from the Heat before most of them mattered.
It was more than that, though. Wade and LeBron had 35 free-throw shots in Game 2 — a fact Boston loudly pointed out between games. They had five Friday night.
– Reported by Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel