James scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat defeated the pesky Celtics, 93-86, on Tuesday night.
Miami led by as much as 18 in the first half, but Boston slowly chipped away until it actually gained a two-point lead late in the fourth quarter. The Heat then closed on a 9-0 run to earn the win.
Dwyane Wade sat out for the third straight game in this one.
The C's outrebounded Miami 46-33, pulling down 17 offensive boards to keep them in the game in spite of their 39.3 percent shooting clip.
The Heat shot 51.4 percent.
Key Player Grades
Rajon Rondo, Point Guard
Rajon Rondo still needs to shake off a whole lot of rust.
While the instincts and floor vision are still clearly there, the results are not.
Rondo went 0-of-8 from the floor, missing some layups that he makes in his sleep. It's obvious that his quick first step still isn't there yet, as a healthy Rondo usually feasts on the Miami point guards.
That being said, Rondo still made some outstanding passes and reads, jogging Celtics fans' memories of what it's like to have a true point guard running the show.
The fiery floor general handed out five assists in 26 minutes.
The good news is that Rondo's defense hasn't lost a beat, as his anticipation and peskiness on that end of the floor remains top notch. I counted at least three times that he stripped Ray Allen when he was defending him for a short stretch.
It's baby steps with Rondo, and for that, he gets some leniency with his grade.
Jeff Green, Small Forward
This wasn't a great outing for Jeff Green.
The versatile forward went only 5-of-15 from the floor and displayed some sloppy ball-handling, especially with under two minutes to go when he lost the ball out of bounds with Boston down two.
Green also missed some good looks from three, going 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The 27-year-old finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes.
Jared Sullinger, Power Forward
Jared Sullinger did not shoot the ball well at all, going 4-of-14 from the floor (he scored 12 points) and missing all four of his three-point tries, but he had a significant impact on this game.
The burly big man hauled in 11 rebounds, eight of them coming on the offensive end. When he re-entered the game in the second quarter, the Celtics immediately went on a run as he began extending possessions by beating Miami's bigs on the glass.
It may be time for Sullinger to stop shooting the three-ball, though. Work on it over the summer and try to hone it then. Right now, jacking those shots is simply hurting his team.
Avery Bradley, Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley's action was short-lived on Tuesday night.
The 2-guard left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle and did not return.
Bradley scored three points off three free throws in seven minutes.
Kind of hard to to assign Bradley a grade due to his limited playing time.
Kris Humphries, Center
Kris Humphries was awesome for the Celtics in this one.
Humphries posted a double-double, recording 14 points and 13 boards (four offensive). He also did a great job of spreading the floor and running in transition.
Humphries was solid on the defensive end, too, making sound rotations and doing a great job of boxing out.
The former Brooklyn Net shot 7-of-10 from the field.
Perhaps Boston should seriously consider re-signing the big man in the offseason. Humphries is still young, and he could serve as a nice hard-working influence for the young guys.
Brandon Bass, Sixth Man
Brandon Bass had a very productive 18 minutes, scoring 15 points off 5-of-7 shooting. He had some issues with ball control, bobbling some passes and exhibiting some sloppy dribbling, but he did a fine job by taking good shots and playing good defense.
Bass took a bit of a hard fall in the fourth quarter and did not return for the remainder of the contest. Apparently, it was a hip injury.
Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be anything serious.
How about Chris Johnson?
The Celtics just signed Johnson out of the D-League, and he made his NBA debut against Miami.
Well, Johnson, a guard, scored 11 points and played an enormous role in keeping the Celtics in the game during the second half.
He made outstanding reads in transition, knowing when to get rid of the ball and when to shoot. He appears to have very solid floor vision, and he totaled three assists in his 25 minutes.
Gerald Wallace scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, but his biggest impact came defensively, as he locked LeBron down in the third quarter to help Boston get back into the game.
Phil Pressey did a solid job of maintaining the pace, but he air-balled a couple of triples.
Then, you had the enigmatic Kelly Olynyk, who scored six points but looked absolutely lost for much of his 13 minutes.
Still, thanks to the efforts of Johnson and Wallace, Boston's bench earns high marks.
LeBron James, Small Forward
This wasn't one of LeBron James' usual dominant efforts, but it was still a sound all-around performance.
James tallied 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists, making some outstanding passes late in the shot clock to get his guys good looks and bail his team out in the process.
LeBron went 10-of-19 from the floor (0-of-4 from deep).
Most importantly, James scored 11 points in a tightly-contested fourth quarter.
Chris Bosh, Center
Chris Bosh was huge offensively for the Heat on Tuesday night.
The big man did an incredible job of spacing the floor, knocking down a couple of big triples to thwart Celtics runs. One came as the shot clock was about to expire early in the fourth quarter.
Bosh scored 16 points off 7-of-10 shooting.
The problem for CB in this one was his lack of a presence on the glass.
Bosh pulled down only five boards and was a big reason why the Celtics were able to grab 17 offensive rebounds.
That hurts his overall grade.
Ray Allen, Shooting Guard
Ray Allen had a so-so effort in this one, registering seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
He hit on only one of his four three-point tries, and it's very clear that he is at a point in his career where he struggles mightily against quick, agile defenders (Rondo gave him a ton of trouble).
Still, Allen hit a big floater to beat the shot clock in the latter stages of the fourth quarter, which was part of a 9-0 Miami run to close out the contest.
Mario Chalmers, Point Guard
This was a decent effort by Mario Chalmers.
The floor general posted eight points and six assists, shooting an efficient 4-of-8 from the floor and doing most of his damage in the first quarter when the Heat were at their very best in this game.
The minus-2 plus-minus is a bit discouraging, but overall, Chalmers was alright. He didn't play out of his element or try to do too much, and he was solid with the rock, turning it over only twice in 34 minutes.
The fact that 'Rio was essentially invisible in the second half hurts him, however.
Shane Battier, Power Forward
Shane Battier struggled in his 21 minutes on Tuesday night.
He shot 2-of-5 from the floor, missed two good looks from three and had a load of trouble keeping Sullinger off the glass inside. The Celtics big man was just too strong for Battier. That's not necessarily Battier's fault, as he is really playing out of position, but regardless, Shane hurt Miami in that aspect.
Battier recorded only one rebound in this one.
Norris Cole, Sixth Man
Norris Cole wasn't all that effective in the win.
While he did hand out six assists, he shot only 1-of-7 from the floor for two points. He didn't get to the free-throw line and he missed all three of his shots from distance, and they were clean looks, too.
Cole also committed four turnovers in 29 minutes.
Chris Andersen played a pivotal role for the Heat.
Andersen scored 13 points, including a couple of big putback dunks in the first half. He also hit a huge jumper late to make it two-possession game.
Birdman made all five of his shots and pulled down seven rebounds to boot.
Michael Beasley quietly chipped in with nine points in 13 minutes, and how about Greg Oden?
The big man had a very nice block on a Green dunk attempt, and while he still lumbers around a bit and looks uncoordinated at times, he looks like has a solid idea of what to do out there.
Oden had two points in six minutes.
What's Next for the Celtics?
That should be fun to watch.
What's Next for the Heat?
The Heat get the very beatable Los Angeles Lakers at home, but then their schedule toughens.
The two succeeding contests are against the San Antonio Spurs (finals preview) and Oklahoma City Thunder. Fortunately for Miami, both of those games are at home.
Then, the Heat play eight of their next nine on the road.