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WEEI » This Just In » Opportunity lost: Rondo brilliant, C's lose
Wed, 05/30/2012 - 11:47pm  

Opportunity lost: Rondo brilliant, C's lose

Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and Udonis Haslem scored the go-ahead dunk during a 9-0 run in overtime as the Heat handed the Celtics a crushing 115-111 loss in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena. The Heat, who were led by 34 points from LeBron James, lead the Celtics 2-0 as the series shifts back to Boston for Game 3 on Friday.

Rajon Rondo posted one of the greatest playoff performances in the legendary history of the Celtics and the NBA, scoring 44 points, dishing 10 assists and hauling down eight rebounds while playing all 53 minutes. Rondo was 16-of-24 from the field and kept the Celtics in the game late, as Paul Pierce and Keyon Dooling fouled out. Again, the officials were a significant point of controversy as the Celtics were whistled for 33 fouls while the Heat were called for just 18. The most blatant missed called came late in overtime with the game tied as Rondo drove the basket. Replays showed Rondo was raked across the face by Wade but no call was made. 

Rondo became the first Celtics player ever with at least 40 points and at least 10 assists in a playoff game. Miami used a late 9-0 run to overcome a five-point Boston lead to take a four-point lead before Ray Allen tied the game with 34.3 seconds. LeBron James missed a jumper over Rajon Rondo as time expired in regulation, sending the game to overtime. 

Depsite having the first seven fouls of the game called against them, the Celtics took early control of the game thanks to Rondo. He went to the basket early and often. He got to the line six times in the first quarter and made 7-of-11 from the field and 8-of-10 from the line in the first half. Rondo finished with remarkable 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds in playing all 24 minutes of the first half. Even more impressive was the fact that he committed just one turnover in playing the entire first half. 

His play was contagious as the Celtics went a 10-minute stretch in the first half in which they didn't miss from the field, going 12-for-12 from the floor as the Celtics extended their lead to as many as 15. 

The Heat went on a 7-0 run to close the Celtics lead down to six, 49-43, before the Celtics responded and stopped Miami's momentum, heading to the locker room with a 53-46 halftime lead. In addition to Rondo's huge first half, another key for Boston in the first half was their double-teaming of Dwyane Wade, who had just two points on one field goal in the first 24 minutes. The Celtics shot 54 percent and outrebounded the Heat, 24-16, in their impressive first half performance. 

But Wade began to heat up in the third quarter and the Heat went on a 10-1 run to draw to within one, 71-70. With 2:55 left, the Heat took their first lead since the first quarter when Udonis Haslem was fouled on a layup. He made the free throw to put Miami up, 73-71. The key play in the spurt was Wade's block on a Ray Allen layup attempt. That led to a Mario Chalmers layup. Moments later, James blocked Pierce on a layup. That block led to a Wade layup, foul and free throw, capping a 12-0 run that put Miami up, 78-71. 

The Heat scored 35 points in the third quarter, making 13-of-20 shots in the process, taking an 81-75 lead over Boston into the fourth quarter. Mickael Pietrus hit a 3-pointer with 8:24 left and Rondo had a steal and a layup with just under eight minutes remaining to give the Celtics the lead again, 86-85. Kevin Garnett hit a pair of free throws with 6:58 left to cap a 9-0 run as the Celtics went up, 88-85. Rondo's wide-open jumper with 4:15 put the Celtics up five, 92-87. 

But after Pierce's jumper with 3:50 remaining put the Celtics up 94-89, Boston went cold. James hit a pair of free throws before Shane Battier hit a three with 2:17 left to tie the game at 94-94. With 1:52 left, Pietrus fouled James, who knocked down two free throws to give the Heat the lead, 96-94. Haslem hit a jumper with 1:08 left to cap Miami's 9-0 run. After James was sucked into the paint on defense, Ray Allen hit a wide-open three with 34.3 seconds remaining to tie the game, 99-99.

The series now shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday night at 8:30 at TD Garden. That will be followed up by Game 4 on Sunday night in Boston. 

For complete coverage of Game 2 from Paul Flannery in Miami, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics and the Green Street blog. 




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