BOSTON — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo combined for 68 points and the Celtics beat the Heat 101-91 Friday night to cut their deficit to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference final.
LeBron James scored 34, his third straight 30-point game, but 16 were in the first quarter.
Garnett had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Pierce 23 points, and Rondo 21 points, six rebounds and 10 assists.
James and the rest of the Heat went cold during a seven-minute stretch at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, when Boston outscored them 15-0 to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
By the fourth quarter, the Celtics had a 24-point lead. The Heat cut its deficit to eight with three minutes to go. Then Dwyane Wade (18 points) missed a shot, and Ray Allen grabbed the rebound, sending Rondo on a fast break that made it a 99-89 with 99 seconds to play.
James threw the ball away underneath, then missed a 3-pointer the next time down, one of only four shots he took in the quarter. He had four points in the fourth.
Pierce found Garnett for a long jumper at the other end, and the teams began emptying their benches.
Down 2-0 when the day began, the Celtics remained emotionally between confident and defiant. They were emboldened by their Game 2 performance, despite the overtime defeat, and by the change in surroundings.
"We have not given our best shot yet," coach Doc Rivers vowed before tipoff.
MIAMI (91): James 16-26 1-5 34, Battier 0-6 0-0 0, Turiaf 1-1 1-2 3, Chalmers 5-11 3-6 14, Wade 9-20 0-0 18, Anthony 1-1 2-2 4, Miller 4-8 0-1 11, Cole 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 1-2 2-2 4, Haslem 1-2 1-2 3, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Howard 0-0 0-0 0, Pittman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-77 10-20 91.
BOSTON (101): Pierce 7-21 7-7 23, Bass 1-3 2-2 4, Garnett 10-16 4-6 24, Rondo 9-16 3-5 21, Allen 4-8 0-0 10, Pietrus 0-2 2-2 2, Stiemsma 0-0 1-2 1, Dooling 3-4 0-0 7, Daniels 4-6 1-2 9, Hollins 0-0 0-0 0, Pavlovic 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-76 20-26 101.
Miami 28 14 21 28— 91
Boston 30 25 30 16— 101
3-Point Goals—Miami 5-17 (Miller 3-6, Chalmers 1-2, James 1-4, Jones 0-1, Battier 0-4), Boston 5-17 (Allen 2-5, Pierce 2-6, Dooling 1-2, Pietrus 0-1, Daniels 0-1, Rondo 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Miami 42 (James 8), Boston 51 (Garnett 11). Assists—Miami 20 (Chalmers 6), Boston 16 (Rondo 10). Total Fouls—Miami 24, Boston 24. Technicals—Garnett, Boston defensive three second. A—18,624 (18,624).
Spurs regroup for Game 4
OKLAHOMA CITY — After losing for the first time since mid April, it was time for the Spurs to face a different set of questions with their West final lead over the Thunder cut to 2-1.
No longer was the talk about whether the Spurs — riding a 20-game winning streak less than 24 hours earlier — were invincible. It was about how to regroup after a 102-82 loss for Game 4 tonight.
"Usually it's easier to refocus after a loss than after a win," said Manu Ginobili, held to eight points in Game 3 after totaling 46 in the first two games. "In the past, we've reacted really well to wins. We'll see now how we do against losses."
The Thunder limited the output of San Antonio's best backcourt players by deploying 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha to use his 5-inch height advantage and wingspan to corral Tony Parker, and by changing its defense on the Spurs' pick-and-roll attack. San Antonio's 82 points were a season low.
Report: Phil Jackson bows out of Magic plan
ORLANDO — For a few days this week, Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson was interested in the possibility of joining the Magic's front office, the Orlando Sentinel reported. In the end, he decided he wasn't that interested.
Magic CEO Alex Martins was presented Wednesday with a scenario involving Jackson by former player and Bobcats coach Sam Vincent, who played for the Magic from 1989-92 and for Jackson with the Bulls in 1988-89, the newspaper said.
"It drew some interest from Phil," said Vincent. "But in the end, Phil decided to go with another opportunity."
Martins learned of Jackson's exit late Thursday. He wouldn't comment. "I have been consistent during the search that I won't comment on specific candidates," Martins said in an email to the Sentinel.
Vincent's plan would have involved Jackson, 66, as either the team president/general manager or in a consulting role. The coach would have been a former all-star player and Hall of Famer who has never coached before. The Sentinel said it knew the identity of the former player but wouldn't reveal it because he works for another NBA team.
Ex-player woolridge dies: Orlando Woolridge, the rugged forward who carved out a reputation over 13 seasons as a scoring specialist and one of the original alley-oop artists, died Thursday (May 31, 2012) at his parents' home in Mansfield, La. He was 52. Mr. Woolridge died in hospice care for a chronic heart condition, DeSoto Parish Chief Deputy Coroner Billy Locke said. Mr. Woolridge was the sixth overall pick by the Bulls in 1981 after starring at Notre Dame. He played for Chicago, the Lakers, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Detroit.