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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Heat drop Celts in OT, take 3-1 lead


BOSTON — Miami's Big Three was assembled for just this purpose: To dominate the bullies from Boston who knocked them from the playoffs so many times before.

News photo
Pulling away: Miami's LeBron James dribbles past Boston's Kevin Garnett during overtime in Game 4 on Monday night. The Heat beat the Celtics 98-90 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP

LeBron James scored 35 points, Dwyane Wade had 28 and Chris Bosh had 20 on Monday night to give the Heat a 98-90 overtime victory over the Celtics and move Miami within one game of the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat lead the best-of-seven East semifinals 3-1, with a chance to close out the series in Miami on Wednesday.

"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 games on Wednesday. And we have to be better. If we're real about what we want to do, we have to beat the Boston Celtics at their best."

One game after their worst performance as a threesome, James, Wade and Bosh had 83 of Miami's 98 points and 35 of its 45 rebounds. They scored all 12 of Miami's points in overtime; Bosh and Wade had five apiece after James' fallaway jumper on the Heat's first possession of the extra period gave them the lead for good.

"We're the guys. We're the ones who get all the attention. We're the ones that get all the praise," Wade said. "This team is going to go as far as us three takes it."

Paul Pierce scored 27, Ray Allen had 17 and Kevin Garnett had seven points and 10 rebounds for Boston. Rajon Rondo, who dislocated his left elbow Saturday night in Game 3, played 39 minutes with a padded sleeve covering what appeared to be a brace on his left arm, scoring 10 with five assists.

The Celtics would need to win the next three games — two in Miami — to have a chance to defend their Eastern Conference championship.

"These are those moments. I look forward to it," Allen said. "Everybody on this team, we know what to do. We can't talk about it; we just have to put our best foot forward. It's not easy. It just makes it that much more special if we're able to do it."

Boston has reached the NBA Finals in two of the last three seasons, both times knocking James and the Cavaliers out along the way. The Celtics eliminated the Heat last year one round after knocking Cleveland out and sending James on the journey that landed him in Miami.

In all, Wade had lost 11 straight regular-season and playoff games in Boston. James had lost 13 of 15, including the one that ended his Cleveland career.

"I haven't had much success in this building," James said. "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to just come out and do whatever it took."

Okla. 133, Memphis 123 (3OT)

In Memphis, Kevin Durant scored six of his 35 points in the third overtime, and Oklahoma City survived a thriller in holding off the Grizzlies.

With the victory, the Thunder grabbed back home-court advantage and tied this Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.

Durant credited Memphis with playing an unbelievable game and pressuring Oklahoma City throughout. He said this was a fun game he'll tell his children about someday.

"This game is something people are going to be talking about for a while," Durant said. "I'm glad I'm a part of it."

Game 5 is on Wednesday night back in Oklahoma City. The winner of the series will play the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals.

The finish couldn't have been more exciting in the second straight overtime game in this series. The sellout crowd stood through each overtime, though fans started trickling toward the exits as the clock ticked past midnight locally.

Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 40 points. James Harden added 19, and Daequan Cook had 10.

The Grizzlies ran out of energy in the third overtime as they hit just 1 of 9 from the floor.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 34 points and 16 rebounds. Marc Gasol had 26 and 21 rebounds. O.J. Mayo had 18 and Mike Conley 16 before both fouled out. Greivis Vasquez had 14.

Conley forced the first overtime with his lone 3 of the game. Vasquez, the rookie playing because Conley had fouled out late in the first overtime, hit a 3 to set up the second overtime. Gasol scored on a tip-in that set up the third OT.

Oklahoma City had its chances to win at the end of regulation and each overtime.

Westbrook's jumper hit the rim before the buzzer to end the first 48 minutes. Durant, the NBA's leading scorer, had a 3 fall short of the basket at the end of the first overtime, and Westbrook's long jumper grazed the front of the rim at the buzzer ending the second overtime.

In the third overtime, the Thunder finally took control. Westbrook scored with 3:38 left to put Oklahoma City up for good with 3:38 left. Durant added a pair of free throws, and Serge Ibaka hit a jumper before Durant scored on a running layup for a 129-123 lead with 58.8 seconds left.

Durant stole the ball from Randolph on the other end, then hit a long jumper over Shane Battier with 29.3 seconds left for a 131-123 lead.

Memphis will think about this game after jumping out to an 18-point lead only to squander it.

Oklahoma City, the NBA's best free-throw shooting team, got back into this one at the line, where much of this game was spent.

The Thunder hit 15 of 17 shots in the second quarter alone and finished 31 of 39 in regulation. Durant, who missed his lone attempt in Game 3, was 16 of 18 at the line himself.

Oklahoma City went 42 of 50 at the line compared to Memphis, which hit 37 of 40.

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