Early in the fourth quarter the Miami Heat had a 91-76 lead over the Boston Celtics. Jermaine O'Neal then received a technical foul, with a little over nine minutes left in the game, for throwing Bill Walker down to the ground.
That seemed to awaken a sleeping giant. The defending world champs then went on a 16-2 run to cut the lead to one at 93-92.
However, once again Dwayne Wade came to the rescue, scoring five straight points to stave off the Celtics rally. With 34 seconds left in the game, Wade drained a three-pointer to seal the deal for the Heat as they got past the short-handed Celtics 107-99.
Boston was playing without two of its starters, power forward Kevin Garnett and point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as key reserves Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Brian Scalabrine. However, for a significant period of the fourth quarter the Celtics looked like they would overcome this handicap; until D-Wade's latest heroics.
Wade finished with 32 points, seven assists, and four steals. This was not a one man show, however, as the Heat had solid contributions from fellow Heat starters Jamario Moon, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, and Jermaine O'Neal, as well as key reserve Daequan Cook; all of whom scored in double figures.
The biggest contribution came from Moon. Jamario finished with 13 points, and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Yet, his real impact came on the defensive end, limiting Paul Pierce to only 16 points. Moon used his athleticism to pester Pierce throughout the game. Pierce seemed to be affected by it, as he was never able to get in a real groove.
The same can't be said about Ray Allen. Allen went off, scoring 27 points and hitting 5-of-6 three-pointers in guiding the Celtics to a 55-50 halftime lead. Miami was, however, able to limit Allen in the second half, holding him to only three points.
After the game Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was happy with the win, even if the Celtics were without KG, Rondo, and "Big Baby".
"Obviously they were missing some big pieces," Spoelstra said, "Still it was a gutsy win for us."
Miami was able to take the lead early in the second half, and outscored the Celtics 32-18 in the third quarter. After that, the Celtics never again gained the lead in the game.
This is the 35th win of the year for the Heat, who now stand at 35-29. It is a 20-game improvement over last season's 15-67 record. The 20-game improvement is a franchise record for the best one season turnaround in Heat history.
Leon Powe finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, only the ninth double-double of his career, and the fourth time he's done it against the Heat.
Dwayne Wade extended his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 20 games. This ties a mark he set in 2007 between January and February of that year.
You can read about how I predicted this win for the Heat in my article NBA Rock Hard Locks: Wednesday, March 11.
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