With Big 3 Back, Heat Handle Rival Celtics 109-101
MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had not played together in a couple of weeks, so the Miami Heat needed some time to get back into rhythm.
About 12 minutes, to be precise.
The Heat scored 41 points in the second quarter — their highest-scoring period of the season — to erase what was an early 13-point deficit, and went on to beat the Boston Celtics 109-101 on Friday night.
James had 20 points and nine assists in 29 minutes, and Rashard Lewis added 19 to lead a huge night for the Miami bench, which outscored Boston’s reserves 52-14.
Bosh and Ray Allen each scored 17 for Miami, which got 12 from Norris Cole.
Wade, back after missing six games with bone bruises around his right kneecap, scored 11 points in 34 minutes for Miami, which won its 35th home game to tie the standard set in 2004-05. That was one of two single-season marks for Miami on the evening — the Heat also made 12 3-pointers to push their total for the year to 686, topping the mark of 678 in the 1996-97 campaign.
Miami has three games left, two at home, and already has clinched home-court advantage for the entirety of the NBA playoffs. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said all players will continue to be evaluated on a day-to-day basis, though it seems highly unlikely that several regulars wouldn’t get at least one more game to rest nagging aches and pains before the playoffs open next weekend.
Miami played Friday without Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem.
Jeff Green scored 25 for Boston, which played without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, both out with ankle soreness. Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects both Pierce and Garnett to play on Saturday in Orlando.
Jordan Crawford added 20, Courtney Lee scored 18 and Brandon Bass had 17 for Boston.
The Celtics need one more win to wrap up the No. 7 spot in the East, which would lock Milwaukee into the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with Miami.
Boston lost three of four to the Heat this season, and if the teams are to meet in the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, it would now almost certainly have to be in the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics lost in seven games to Miami in that round a year ago.
The Celtics came out flying early, running out to a 10-point lead after the opening quarter and extending that lead to 30-17 when Lee opened the second with a 3-pointer.
After that, it was largely all Miami.
The Heat shot 16 of 19 from the field in the second quarter — their best shooting in any quarter since 2007, and the NBA’s third-best, single-quarter effort this season — on the way to turning around the game. Miami’s bench shot 8 of 9 in the quarter, scoring 22 points, one less than Boston’s entire roster in the period.
Miami held massive edges in both rebounding (9-2) and assists (12-3) in the quarter, and when Wade beat the buzzer with a layup Miami went into the break with a 58-50 lead.
Boston got within five in the third, but again, the Heat bench proved the difference, with Lewis ending the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers that helped Miami take a 12-point lead into the final 12 minutes.
One more gasp from the Celtics came late in the fourth, when a three-point play by Bass got Boston within 99-90. But Jason Terry was called for a technical 16 seconds later on a play where Allen was fouled, and the former Celtic responded by making all three ensuing free throws. A minute later, James, Bosh, Wade and Allen all checked out for the final time.
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