MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James walked toward Mario Chalmers in the
final minute with a content look.
He punched his teammate twice in the chest. Fitting, because
James and the Miami Heat have now landed two blows against the
James scored 24 of his 35 points in the second half, Dwyane Wade
added 28 and the Heat used a late 14-0 run to pull away and beat
the Celtics 102-91 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal
series on Tuesday night.
"Now the mental discipline begins," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
said. "This thing is just getting started."
Chris Bosh finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for Miami,
which leads the best-of-seven 2-0.
Boston tied the game at 80 on a pair of free throws by Paul
Pierce with 7:10 left. The Celtics missed their next six shots and
Miami pulled away, taking command of both the game and the series -
which doesn't resume in Boston until Saturday night.
"That's our staple. We know the only way for us to win games,
especially in the playoffs, is to play defense," James said.
"Everyone has each others back. If one guy gets beat, another
steps up. They made a run, a heck of a run ... but we just kept
grinding, kept playing our principles, and we finally wore them
Rajon Rondo scored 20 points and added 12 assists for Boston,
which got 16 points from Kevin Garnett and 13 from Pierce. The
Celtics have only rallied from an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven
Jeff Green scored 11 and Delonte West added 10 for the Celtics,
who got only seven from Ray Allen on 2 for 7 shooting.
Even for a franchise with such fabled history as the Celtics, an
0-2 deficit represents a colossal challenge.
This is now the ninth time Boston has dropped the first two
games in a best-of-seven series. In the previous eight, the Celtics
prevailed only against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1969 NBA
And it's something this group of Celtics have never faced
The last time Boston lost the first two games of a playoff
matchup was in 2004, when it was swept by Indiana. The current core
of Celtics had lost Game 1s four other times before this series,
then bounced back to win Game 2 each time, against Chicago and
Orlando in 2009, then Cleveland and the Lakers in 2010. Not this time.
To win this series, Boston will need to prevail four times in a
five-game span - which it did in the first round against Miami last
year, then again in the second round at the expense of James and
the Cavaliers in the East semis. So it can be done, but neither
James (7-0) nor Wade (5-0) has ever been part of a playoff series
defeat after their clubs won the first two games.
"This is a great team we are going against right now," James
said. "We're just trying to give ourselves a good chance to win,
just try to keep on attacking them, playing as hard as we can
defensively, just trying to wear them down throughout the game, but
it's a great team."
The Celtics had more than a chance to avoid the 0-2 hole.
James scored 12 points in the third quarter, one more than he
managed in the first half, to help Miami take a 72-67 cushion into
the final 12 minutes. James then added the first basket of the
fourth, but Boston answered with a 13-6 run over the next 4 minutes
to knot the game at 80. Miami's rebuttal was swift - and crucial.
hat's when Miami's big run began, including a three-point play
where James dunked and got fouled after Joel Anthony kept an
offensive rebound alive.
Jermaine O'Neal had a chance to end Boston's drought with 4:53
left, but his dunk was partially blocked by Anthony and bounced off
the rim. James hit a long jumper from the left corner 17 seconds
later, pushing the Heat lead to 92-80, their biggest of the night
to that point.
Miami led 27-26 after the first, and giving up that many points
likely didn't sit well with either side. The defenses eventually arrived.
Consider: Over a span of 7:21 of the second quarter, the Heat
managed only six points. And that was one more than Boston did.
The Celtics missed 14 of 15 shots in one stretch of the second,
clearly out of rhythm. Pierce went to the locker room late in the
first quarter to ice down his left foot, and for one early stint
Boston had a lineup of Green, West, Glen Davis, Von Wafer and Nenad Krstic on the floor together.
Green had eight points in the first quarter, a team high to help
Boston keep pace. Meanwhile, Miami missed seven straight shots
during one span of the second, but by halftime, the offensive fireworks returned.
Wade jab-stepped his way around Garnett - faking him badly - for
a three-point play, then used some more fancy footwork to get free
of Allen for a 3-pointer and a 47-40 lead with 3 seconds left in
the half. Rondo made a pair of free throws with 0.9 ticks
remaining, after referee Greg Willard determined he was bumped at
midcourt by James Jones.
NOTES: Shaquille O'Neal (calf) was out again for Boston, while
the Heat said Udonis Haslem (foot) still "isn't ready" to return
from November foot surgery. ... Pierce played 33 minutes, giving
him 4,259 in his Celtics playoff career, passing Dennis Johnson
(4,258) for seventh in franchise history. ... Heat guard Mike
Bibby's steal with 41 seconds left in the first quarter was his
100th in 87 playoff games.