MIAMI -- LeBron James scored 31 while Chris Bosh added 19 monumentally big points off the bench as the Heat beat the Celtics, 101-88, Saturday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals at American Airlines Arena. Rajon Rondo scored 22, dished out 14 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the playoffs but it wasn't enough as the Celtics watched their dreams of an 18th championship end in South Florida.
The Celtics, who led by seven at the half, were outscored 28-15 in the fourth quarter. The Heat, who head back to the finals for the second straight year, went on an 18-4 run as the Celtics ran out of gas down the stretch. Dwyane Wade had 23 for the Heat, who open the finals on the road in Oklahoma City Tuesday night.
It was a game that had eerie similarities to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals, when the Celtics controlled the first half but couldn't close out the game. In that game Pau Gasol was big down the stretch. Saturday night, Bosh was huge off the bench, keeping the Heat in the game until James and Wade got going in the second half.
Kevin Garnett was big early hitting a pair of turnaround jumpers. That was followed by Paul Pierce - 4-for-18 in Game 6 - starting to heat up. He had a pair fo field goals to help the Celtics to a 23-14 lead. But then Doc Rivers went to Greg Stiemsma with 3:46 left in the first and the Heat went on a 9-4 run to end the quarter, cutting Boston's lead to 27-23 after the first. Ray Allen hit a pair of 3-pointers to lead the Celtics with eight while James was perfect at the line, hitting all six free throws as part of his eight-point opening period.
The Heat, behind Chris Bosh, continued their run as the second quarter opened. Bosh hit a pair of jumpers, including a long straightaway 3-pointer that tied the game, 30-30. The Celtics answered with the next five point before Bosh led another run that tied it, 35-35. The Celtics appeared to be in huge trouble with Kevin Garnett picking up his third foul with just over seven minutes left in the first half.
But instead, it was Bass to the rescue. He immediately connected on a pair of layups to put Boston up, 39-35. Moments later, Mario Chalmers drilled a three to cut Boston's lead in half, 41-38. But the Celtics, thanks to another six points from Bass, went on an 8-0 run to build their biggest lead, 49-38, with 3:12 left in the first half. The run was capped by a Bass dunk over Wade as the Celtics silenced the Miami crowd. Bass finished with 14 first half points, while Pierce added 13 and Allen chipped in with 12. Rondo had 10 assists as the Celtics built their lead to 53-46 at the half.
In a sign of things to come, Rondo picked up a foul just eight seconds into the second half as the Heat gathered momentum. After a Rondo layup with 9:27 left in the third put Boston up, 59-51, the Heat went on an 8-0 run to tie the game. The two teams then exchanged several lead changes the rest of the quarter before the two teams went to the fourth tie. The quarter ended on an appropriate note, as Rondo hit a 3-pointer with 45.2 seconds left, putting the Celtics ahead, 73-71. But Bosh answered immediately as the game was tied, 73-73, heading into the fourth. Entering Saturday, the Celtics were 9-0 in the playoffs when tied or leading after three quarters.
The back-and-forth in this epic Game 7 continued in the fourth. With 8:51 left, Allen rattled home a three from the left baseline to put the Celtics up, 82-81. It would be their final lead.
After Allen missed a three moments later, James grabbed the rebound and came down the court, beat Bass off the dribble, threw down a monstrous one-handed jam to put Miami back up, 83-82, with 7:59 left. Bosh hit another huge three with 7:18 from the baseline to put Miami up, 86-82. Following a bad Celtics possession, James hit a layup with 6:52 left, as Miami went up, 88-82. After a Bass jumper cut the lead to four, James hit arguably the shot of the game, a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, putting Miami up, 91-84, with 5:44 left. Wade connected on a layup with 3:23 left to put Miami ahead, 95-86.
The Celtics fell to 3-4 all-time in Game 7s on the road. For complete coverage of Game 7 from the team of Paul Flannery and Mike Petraglia on site in Miami, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics  and the Green Street  blog.