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So much for this notion of the Boston Celtics having a "Big 3." And even Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce would agree, it's probably time for Rajon Rondo to figure somewhere into that designation as well.
Garnett scored 24 points on 11 of 12 shooting, Allen hit the clinching 3-pointer with 1:38 left, and Rondo effortlessly ran everything with 13 points and 11 assists as the Celtics opened a four-game trip with their fourth straight win, 92-85 over the Miami Heat on Sunday night.
For as great as Garnett was, for as clutch as Allen was, the Heat tipped their caps to Rondo
"Those situations were created by that little guy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He was excellent tonight, really. ... I thought he controlled this game as well as anybody and I don't know if his stat line is really as indicative of how much impact he had on this game."
Off a set play following a time-out, Rondo found Perkins for a dunk with 2:51 left and the Celtics - who led by 11 in the third, then rallied from five down early in the fourth after a horrific shooting stretch - never trailed again.
With 1:38 to play, Allen used a screen by Kendrick Perkins perfectly, getting free of Dwyane Wade and taking a pass from Rondo for a 3-pointer to put Boston up 89-83 - and the margin was never closer than four again.
"You never can take anything for granted," said Allen, who missed practice Saturday to be with his ill 2-year-old son. "Every win is much needed. So you just have to create momentum. That's important."
Pierce scored 15 points and Perkins finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for Boston, which already has a 61/2-game lead in the Atlantic division.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points for Miami, which has lost six of nine and opens a four-game West Coast trip Tuesday in Portland. Michael Beasley scored 11 of his 18 in the fourth quarter and Jermaine O'Neal finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who went the final 4:26 without a field goal.
"Tonight, there's a lot of good things in a loss," Wade said. "We were right there. The seasoned team, the veteran team made the plays they had to make at the end. They made the shots we had to make. We had good shots. We just didn't make them and we missed free throws as well."
The Heat shot 10 of 17 from the line in the second half, 17 of 28 for the game.
Garnett, meanwhile, almost didn't miss from anywhere.
His lone misfire all night was a turnaround jumper with 8:28 left in the third quarter, part of a stretch where Boston shot 1 of 11 and saw a 59-48 lead entirely disappear. It's the third time in Garnett's career he made 11 field goals and shot 90 percent or better in a game: He was 11 of 12 against Dallas on March 30, 1999 and 12 of 13 at Portland on Feb. 3, 2006.
Garnett finished it off with 38.3 seconds left with a jumper from the left elbow.
"He was big for us, especially defensively," Pierce said. "He was really aggressive on the offensive end."
Wade led the charge during a 14-3 third-quarter run that brought Miami back. He scored 10 of the points and found Beasley for a dunk with 3:55 left that tied it at 62.
And with Wade on the bench to open the fourth, Beasley took over the scoring load.
Beasley's 3-pointer with 10:02 left gave Miami a 70-67 lead, its first since midway through the second period. He took Rasheed Wallace off the dribble and scored, missed the free throw, but got fouled again by Wallace 1 second later and hit both from the line for a 74-69 Heat advantage with 9:18 left.
The Celtics - who missed three shots in the first quarter and shot 64 percent in the first half - missed 14 of 18 from the floor before Brian Scalabrine's 3-pointer with 8 minutes left. Rondo tied it at 76 with an acrobatic layup, and the Heat shot 2 of 8 the rest of the way.
"We settled down and handled the little adversity we went through to close the third and start the fourth," Rondo said. "We got the job done."
This program aired on November 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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