Celtics Regroup to Beat Heat in OT


Published: Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.

BOSTON | Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists, and scored the final three points of the Boston Celtics' 93-91 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday night that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

Getting a huge break when LeBron James fouled out for the first time since joining the Heat, the Celtics recovered after blowing an 18-point lead in regulation to move two games away from a third trip to the NBA finals in five years.

Kevin Garnett added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, while Paul Pierce scored 23 points before fouling out. James had 29 points and Dwyane Wade scored 20 for the Heat, who host Game 5 on Tuesday.

MIAMI (91)

James 12-25 4-8 29, Battier 2-4 0-0 6, Anthony 1-1 0-0 2, Chalmers 5-13 2-2 12, Wade 7-22 4-5 20, Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Haslem 4-6 4-4 12, Cole 1-2 3-5 5, Jones 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 34-80 17-24 91.

BOSTON (93)

Pierce 8-18 5-6 23, Bass 3-8 5-5 11, Garnett 8-20 1-1 17, Rondo 7-14 1-2 15, Allen 6-16 0-0 16, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0, Daniels 0-1 1-2 1, Dooling 3-5 1-2 10, Pietrus 0-3 0-2 0. Totals 35-85 14-20 93.

Miami 23 24 21 21 2 — 91

Boston 34 27 12 16 4 — 93

3-Point Goals—Miami 6-19 (Battier 2-3, Wade 2-6, Jones 1-2, James 1-3, Miller 0-2, Chalmers 0-3), Boston 9-27 (Allen 4-11, Dooling 3-4, Pierce 2-6, Garnett 0-1, Rondo 0-2, Pietrus 0-3). Fouled Out—James, Pierce. Rebounds—Miami 56 (Haslem 17), Boston 53 (Garnett 14). Assists—Miami 20 (Wade 6), Boston 22 (Rondo 15). Total Fouls—Miami 28, Boston 30. Technicals—Rondo. A—18,624 (18,624).

Revived Thunder Eyeing Needed Road Win

SAN ANTONIO | In the span of three days, the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs as many times as they had in the last three years.

And now the Western Conference finals are suddenly up for grabs.

What once seemed like the continuation of one of the most dominant runs in NBA history has turned into a genuine toss-up of a series after the Thunder stopped San Antonio's perfect stretch with two convincing victories in half a week.

Game 5 is Monday night in San Antonio. Oklahoma City needs at least one road win to advance, and Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Sunday there's no time like the present.

"We have a great opportunity in Game 5," Brooks said.

Seldom have the Thunder been able to say that when they faced the Spurs.

Since James Harden joined Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in 2009, the Thunder had been 2-8 against San Antonio heading into this series. Now they return to Texas with a chance to hand the Spurs three straight losses for the first time all season.

"We've just got to go down there with the mindset that we're going to play hard every possession, play together like we've been playing these last few games, and we'll see what happens," said Durant, who is averaging 29 points this series after scoring 36 in Game 4 on Saturday. "We've just got to keep believing, man. We'll be fine."

Spurs players didn't meet with reporters Sunday. Coach Gregg Popovich, back at Spurs headquarters trying to solve his team's first skid since April 9-11, said their attitude hasn't changed from when they were winning 20 straight games.

Also not likely to change much are the defensive looks the Spurs threw at the Thunder in a 109-103 loss on Saturday. That's because, as far as Popovich is concerned, there is little to plan for when three typically unheralded offensive players shoot a combined 22 of 25 for 49 points.

That's what Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison did in Game 4, giving the Thunder a rare dose of balance on a team that leaned on its Big Three for nearly 70 percent of its scoring before this series. Ibaka was especially unstoppable, going 11 for 11 and finishing just one basket shy of the most perfect-shooting playoff game in NBA history.

"Maybe they'll do it again, but I don't think so," Popovich said. "We'll play the same defense, and if they don't shoot as well it won't be because of our defense. It'll be because they don't do as well."

The Thunder are 7-0 at home in the playoffs and 3-3 on the road. Oklahoma City held first place in the West for nearly the entire season.

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