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Heat beat Celtics take 3-1 lead; Thunder escape Grizzlies in 3 OT's
By Paul Levine May 10, 2011, 7:22 GMT
Los Angeles - Miami's Big Three came up huge on Monday night while Boston's Big Three couldn't deliver when it mattered.
LeBron James had 35 points with 14 rebounds, Dwayne Wade had 28, while Chris Bosh added 21 with 12 boards, and a key tip-in with 24 seconds left in overtime, as the visiting Heat beat the Celtics 98-90 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final playoff series.
'Obviously, this was the biggest game yet to date for this team since 2006 and we had to approach it that way,' said Wade. 'Personally, I just put the challenge to myself, LeBron and Chris, and everyone else on the team to fill in. But it was up to us to get the win.
'It puts us in a great position to go back home and close out the series.'
Miami can wrap up the best-of-seven series at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night and book a spot in its first conference finals since the 2006 NBA Championship season.
'Wednesday night will be our greatest challenge that we've had with this group so far,' Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. 'We'll get their best game and we have to be better.'
Paul Pierce led the third-seeded Boston with 27 points, Ray Allen had 17, but Kevin Garnett finished with just seven points, missing nine-of-10 shots. Rajon Rondo put in another courageous effort with 10 points and five assists despite playing with a dislocated left elbow.
'We feel like tonight we beat ourselves,' said Pierce. 'We had poor execution down the stretch and it carried into the overtime.'
The defending Eastern Conference Champions will look to stay alive with history against them. Only eight teams have ever rallied to win an NBA playoff series after trailing 3-1.
'These are those moments people write poems, books and quotes about,' Allen said. 'I look forward to the challenge and we know what we have to do. We have to put our best foot forward. We know the effort we put out there tonight has to be better.'
With the game tied at 86-86, the Celtics had a chance to win on the final shot of regulation after James lost the ball. The play broke down, however, and Pierce was forced to take a desperation jumper from the left side that clanged off the rim at the buzzer.
'We didn't execute the last play and we left Paul on the island,' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. 'It was frustrating because we had so many opportunities and then not to get off a good shot at the end.'
James, Wade and Bosh took over in the extra session, outscoring the Celtics 12-4 while the hosts committed four of their 18 turnovers.
James started the overtime with a tough fade-away jumper and a dunk by Bosh opened up 90-86 advantage. After Boston's Delonte West missed a three-pointer, James then drew an offensive foul on Pierce.
Wade then drained a long jumper with two minutes left for a 92-86 lead. Pierce's driving layup with 47 seconds left pulled the Celtics to within 93-90.
James missed a straightaway jumper, but Bosh tipped it home, silencing the sold out crowd at TD Garden.
'We're one more win away from our short-term goal,' Bosh said. 'We just have to keep playing together.'
Elsewhere Oklahoma City 133, Memphis 123 (3 OT) Russell Westbrook scored 40 points, Kevin Durant had six of his 35 in the third overtime and grabbed 13 rebounds as the visiting Thunder survived the scrappy Grizzlies to knot their Western Conference playoff series at 2-2.
'This was fun,' Durant said. 'Three overtimes and both teams playing hard. These are the kind of games you live for.'
James Harden netted 19 points for the fourth-seeded Thunder, who regained home-court advantage by winning the sixth triple overtime game in playoff history.
Oklahoma City hosts game five on Wednesday night.
'Now it's a three-game series and we have two games at home,' Westbrook said. 'It should be fun.'
Zach Randolph had 34 points with 16 rebounds, Spaniard Marc Gasol finished with 26 points and matched a franchise record with 21 boards for the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, who rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter after blowing an 18-point first-half cushion.
'There ain't no moral victories,' Grizzlies Tony Allen said. 'It was a great showcase for the fans but we're upset. We need to go to Oklahoma City and get one.'
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