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Friday, May 13, 2011

LeBron leads charge as Heat oust Celtics


MIAMI — For LeBron James, Game 5 last season against Boston was horrific.

News photo
Avenger: Miami¥x81fs LeBron James goes up for a shot against Boston¥x81fs Kevin Garnett in the first half of Game 5 on Wednesday night. The Heat beat the Celtics 97-87 to win the Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-1. AP PHOTO

A year later, Game 5 was humbling.

And he and the Miami Heat are halfway to an NBA championship, having finally found a way to vanquish the Celtics.

Dwyane Wade scored 34 points, James added 33 — including the game's last 10 in a spectacular closing flourish, part of Miami's 16-0 run over the final 4:15 — and the Heat beat the Celtics 97-87 on Wednesday night to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series in five games.

When it was over, James knelt on the court, oblivious to the photographers who quickly surrounded him in Miami's celebration.

"Everything went through my mind at that point," James said. "Finally getting over this hump against this team. Everything I went through this summer, with 'The Decision' and deciding to come down here to be a part of this team . . . because I knew how important team is to this sport . . . and all the backlash I got from it.

"I would be up here for two hours if I tell you exactly everything that went through my head. Very emotional at that point, you know, and happy we got through it as a team."

That they did — as a team.

James Jones hit a 3-pointer that kick-started the final push, and Chris Bosh finished with 14 points — none of them more important than the two coming when he blew past Kevin Garnett for a game-tying dunk with 2:57 left.

Wade carried Miami early, then James finished the job. The 10-0 run to close the game put some long-simmering Celtics demons to rest.

"I play with the two best players in the league," Bosh said. "And we do this together."

Ray Allen led Boston with 18 points. Garnett had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 12 and Delonte West added 10.

Thunder 99, Grizzlies 72

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 19 points, reserve Daequan Cook added 18 and the Thunder followed their triple-overtime triumph with a blowout of Memphis to take their first series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Oklahoma City leads 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Friday night in Memphis. The Thunder got there with ease considering what happened two nights earlier.

Marc Gasol had 16 points to lead the Grizzlies, who matched their lowest point total from the regular season and played like they were still drained from an emotional loss in their own building.

Memphis shot a season-worst 36 percent and was far enough behind that Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook didn't even play in the fourth quarter.

By the end, Durant was wearing one of the same white Thunder T-shirts as the sellout crowd and was standing on the sidelines directing the lineup of reserves that got to play in garbage time.

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