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Celtics pull away to halve Heat lead

BOSTON — Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 18 rebounds and Paul Pierce 27 points as the Celtics beat the Heat 97-81 on Saturday in Game 3 of the East semifinals.

Boston, back in the series after losing the first two games at Miami, trailed 46-44 at halftime. But it outscored Miami 28-15 in the third then opened the fourth with a 9-2 run.

"That was a championship-caliber response," Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said of the Celtics. "They played harder than us, and they played more efficient than us."

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo played after dislocating his left elbow.

He was hurt and left the floor in the third after crashing to the court in a tangle with Heat guard Dwyane Wade. But he returned to the bench by the end of the quarter and was on the court for the start of the fourth.

"He showed he's a really tough young individual," Garnett said.

Rondo had a right-handed dunk after a steal with 8:39 left that made it 81-63. Two minutes later, he drove and laid it up over LeBron James. Rondo finished with six points, four in the fourth, and 11 assists.

"I didn't have to do much scoring; just directing," he said. "That's using your mouth, using my legs."

The Celtics also got back center Shaquille O'Neal, who had played just one game since Feb. 1 because of injuries to his right calf and Achilles' tendon. He scored two in eight minutes.

Celtics 97, Heat 81

MIAMI (81): James 6-16 3-7 15, Bosh 1-6 4-4 6, Ilgauskas 1-2 0-0 2, Bibby 0-5 0-0 0, Wade 8-19 6-7 23, Anthony 6-7 0-0 12, Jones 2-7 0-0 6, Chalmers 7-9 1-1 17, Miller 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 31-73 14-19 81.

BOSTON (97): Pierce 9-20 4-4 27, Garnett 13-20 2-2 28, J.O'Neal 1-3 0-0 2, Rondo 3-7 0-0 6, Allen 4-11 5-5 15, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, S.O'Neal 1-2 0-2 2, West 4-7 1-2 11, Green 2-3 2-2 6, Wafer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-74 14-17 97.

Miami 21 25 15 20— 81

Boston 27 17 28 25— 97

3-Point GoalsMiami 5-23 (Chalmers 2-4, Jones 2-7, Wade 1-5, Bibby 0-2, Miller 0-2, James 0-3), Boston 9-18 (Pierce 5-7, West 2-4, Allen 2-5, Green 0-1, Garnett 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 43 (Anthony 11), Boston 44 (Garnett 18). AssistsMiami 20 (Wade 7), Boston 27 (Rondo 11). Total FoulsMiami 16, Boston 17. TechnicalsMiami defensive three second. A18,624 (18,624).

Memphis rallies, wins in overtime for 2-1 lead

MEMPHIS — Zach Randolph had 21 points and 21 rebounds as the Grizzlies rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat the Thunder 101-93 in overtime in Game 3.

Memphis, 4-0 at home this postseason, is two wins from becoming the second No. 8 seed to reach a conference final. (The Knicks reached the Finals in lockout-shortened 1998-99.)

Oklahoma City led 70-54 after Kendrick Perkins' tip-in with 3:53 left in the third. But Memphis went on a 13-2 run and outscored Oklahoma City 23-10 in the fourth.

"I think once we looked up at the clock and saw how many points we were down, a little bit of desperation hit," guard Mike Conley said. "We were like, 'Man, we cannot lose this game.' And guys amped up their game, made some changes here and there. And we were able to just be scrappy and play our game."

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the league's scoring leader during the regular season and these playoffs, missed a 20-footer off the back rim with four seconds left in regulation. He took only three shots in overtime and missed them all. (Oklahoma City as a team made only 3 of 12 shots in overtime.)

Durant finished with 22 points, his fewest this postseason after averaging 31.6 coming in, and attempted only one free throw, which he missed.

"This is a tough loss," Durant said. "I'm trying to stay positive, but it was tough. This was tough. We were up 13 going into the fourth, had a good roll going. It was tough."

Grizzlies 101, Thunder 93 OT

OKLAHOMA CITY (93): Durant 10-24 0-1 22, Ibaka 6-12 2-3 14, Perkins 2-6 2-2 6, Westbrook 7-22 8-8 23, Sefolosha 2-7 2-2 6, Collison 2-5 2-2 6, Harden 4-9 3-3 12, Mohammed 1-2 0-0 2, Maynor 0-3 2-2 2, Cook 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 34-93 21-23 93.

MEMPHIS (101): Young 2-6 0-0 4, Randolph 8-22 5-8 21, Gasol 4-14 8-12 16, Conley 8-15 1-2 18, Allen 2-5 6-10 10, Mayo 6-18 4-4 18, Battier 1-2 0-0 2, Haddadi 0-1 5-6 5, Vasquez 1-2 0-0 2, Arthur 2-5 1-2 5. Totals 34-90 30-44 101.

Oklahoma City 20 31 25 10 7— 93

Memphis 22 21 20 23 15— 101

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 4-21 (Durant 2-7, Westbrook 1-3, Harden 1-5, Cook 0-3, Sefolosha 0-3), Memphis 3-10 (Mayo 2-6, Conley 1-3, Randolph 0-1). Fouled OutWestbrook, Perkins. ReboundsOklahoma City 61 (Perkins 13), Memphis 70 (Randolph 21). AssistsOklahoma City 19 (Westbrook 12), Memphis 17 (Conley, Mayo 4). Total FoulsOklahoma City 30, Memphis 17. TechnicalsRandolph. A18,119 (18,119).

Draft: Kentucky forward Terrence Jones and Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs withdrew their names and will play their sophomore and senior seasons, respectively. Boston College junior guard Reggie Jackson will stay in the draft. Underclassmen who haven't hired agents have until midnight tonight to pull out.

Celtics pull away to halve Heat lead 05/08/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 8, 2011 1:28am]

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