MIAMI — Paul Pierce watched the shot sail just over LeBron James' outstretched arm. And when it swished, he turned toward the Boston bench, shaking his head.
The biggest shot of the night. And it put the favored Heat in big trouble in the Eastern Conference final.
Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Pierce scored 19 and the Celtics moved one win away from the East title by upsetting the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night, heading back to Boston with a 3-2 lead.
James had 30 points and 13 rebounds, though he went eight minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, which got no more than nine from anyone else.
Pierce's 3-pointer with 53 seconds left put Boston up 90-86. Miami got within two twice, and argued that it should have had a steal with 8.8 seconds left. But a foul was called on Udonis Haslem for reaching over Garnett's back, and Garnett made two free throws.
The Celtics were down by 13 in the second quarter, then down nine in the third, and answered both times — prevailing on a night where they shot just 41 percent, and got outrebounded 49-39.
In series tied at 2, the Celtics core of Pierce, Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen improved to 9-0.
James hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a two-point lead with 8:10 left, closed out on Pierce to force an airball on the next possession, and eventually Miami pushed the margin to 78-72 on a layup by Wade with 6:17 to play.
Then Boston closed on a 22-12 run.
Boston tied it twice early in the third quarter, before Miami peeled off nine straight to go up 59-50. Four players scored for the Heat during that quick burst, highlighted by Shane Battier's corner 3-pointer and a turnover from Rondo, who threw the ball into the backcourt without being pressured.
But just as they did in the first half when Miami looked poised to pull away, the Celtics rallied — and then some. A 15-1 run gave the Celtics momentum going into the fourth.
Garnett's dunk while being fouled by James Jones with 1:32 left tied it at 60, and Pietrus' long jumper on the next Boston possession gave the Celtics their first lead.
Heat All-Star forward Chris Bosh returned after missing nine playoff games with a strained lower abdominal muscle. Bosh checked in with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.
The Heat decided before the game that Bosh would play off the bench, something he had done only 12 times in his career, all during his rookie season with the Raptors.
"I felt good,'' Bosh said. "When the time comes I'll be ready to play more than I did.''
masseuse dies in bosh's home: A masseuse was pronounced dead at a South Florida hospital after collapsing at Bosh's home. Police said no signs of foul play were found. Miami Beach police said the woman, whose name was not immediately released, went to Bosh's home Monday and "appeared to be well and in good spirits" upon arrival. Fire rescue workers responded to Bosh's home and transported the unconscious woman to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead Monday night.
BOSTON (94): Pierce 6-19 5-5 19, Bass 4-8 2-2 10, Garnett 11-20 4-6 26, Rondo 3-15 1-2 7, Allen 2-9 8-8 13, Stiemsma 1-1 1-2 3, Pietrus 5-8 1-2 13, Dooling 1-1 0-0 3, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-81 22-27 94.
MIAMI (90): James 11-25 6-8 30, Battier 2-4 0-0 5, Haslem 1-5 1-2 3, Chalmers 3-7 2-3 9, Wade 10-22 6-8 27, Bosh 3-8 3-3 9, Miller 1-3 0-0 3, Jones 1-4 1-1 4, Cole 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 32-82 19-25 90.
Boston 16 24 25 29— 94
Miami 24 18 18 30— 90
3-Point Goals—Boston 6-15 (Pietrus 2-4, Pierce 2-5, Dooling 1-1, Allen 1-4, Rondo 0-1), Miami 7-26 (James 2-6, Battier 1-3, Jones 1-3, Miller 1-3, Wade 1-3, Chalmers 1-5, Bosh 0-1, Cole 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Boston 49 (Garnett 11), Miami 60 (Haslem 14). Assists—Boston 19 (Rondo 13), Miami 13 (Chalmers, Wade 3). Total Fouls—Boston 21, Miami 21. Technicals—Bass, Boston defensive three second, Chalmers. A—20,021 (19,600).