Hot-shooting Celtics hold off the Heat
LOS ANGELES, April 10 DPA – Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Kevin Garnett added 24, and the visiting Boston Celtics held off the Miami Heat 115-107 on Tuesday night in a match-up of the NBA’s Eastern Conference powerhouses.
Rajon Rondo had 18 points with 15 assists for the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics (33-24), who shot a sizzling 60.6 per cent from the field en route to their third straight victory despite nearly blowing an early 18-point cushion.
“This is a big win because they’re one of the top teams, but we know we can play with anybody,” Pierce said.
LeBron James scored 36 points, Dwyane Wade had 20 for Southeast Division-leading Miami (40-16), which fell three games behind Chicago for the top spot in the East with 10 left in the regular season.
“They shot the ball very well,” Wade said. “When they shoot like that, it’s going to be tough to beat them.”
Trailing by 18 in the second quarter, Miami pulled to within one early in the final frame on a basket by Chris Bosh. But Ray Allen dropped in a three-pointer and Garnett knocked down four consecutive mid-range jumpers that opened up a 102-91 advantage.
“That was huge,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Garnett’s baskets. “It’s funny because we were about to sub for him.”
Down by 12, Wade’s layup capped a 7-0 run and the Heat was within within 108-103. But Garnett answered with another mid-range jumper at the two minute mark that pushed the lead to 110-105.
The Celtics stayed in front the rest of the way for their second win over Miami in the last nine days.
Richard Hamilton scored 18 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Luol Deng had 19 with 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls minus reigning league MVP Derrick Rose because of a right ankle sprain, beat the visiting New York Knicks to salvage a split of the home-and-home series.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points for the Knicks, who won Sunday’s 100-99 overtime thriller. However, the loss dropped them one-game ahead of idle Milwaukee for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Dallas Mavericks 110, Sacramento Kings 100: German juggernaut Dirk Nowitzki and Rodrigue Beaubouis scored 15 points apiece to lead six teammates in double figures, and the reigning NBA Champ Dallas Mavericks sent the visiting Sacramento Kings to their fifth straight loss despite 25 points and 18 rebounds by DeMarcus Cousins.
Elsewhere: the visiting Philadelphia 76ers routed the New Jersey Nets 107-88; the Washington Wizards dropped the visiting Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic 93-85; and the host Cleveland Cavaliers bounced the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats 103-90.
12 Apr 7:47 AM