BOSTON — Rajon Rondo has made dozens of last-second dashes to the basket. This time, he went in the opposite direction.
The Celtics point guard ran into the backcourt, grabbing the inbounds pass in stride, avoiding a foul and dribbling out the final 3.4 seconds to clinch Boston's 92-91 victory over the 76ers on Saturday in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
"I feel like I could outquick him. That's what I did," Rondo said of Evan Turner. "We knew they had a foul to give. I told (coach) Doc (Rivers) to get me the ball and I could use my speed."
Rondo had 17 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth career playoff triple double. He had six points, five assists and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics went on a 23-7 run to turn a double-digit deficit into a six-point lead with 78 seconds left.
"He's an amazing player," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "He takes that ball wherever he wants to take it on the floor."
Kevin Garnett scored 29, his most in the regular- or postseason this year, and added 11 rebounds for Boston.
Boston led by five when Jrue Holiday made a jumper, then Rondo fouled him with 3.4 seconds left. He made both free throws. Boston inbounded the ball from between the benches, and Rondo sprinted back into the backcourt and outran Turner to the wrong basket as time expired.
PHILADELPHIA (91): Iguodala 7-16 2-2 19, Brand 2-5 0-2 4, Hawes 6-12 3-4 15, Holiday 3-13 2-2 8, Turner 7-13 2-2 16, T.Young 1-4 3-6 5, L.Allen 5-7 2-2 12, L.Williams 4-11 0-0 9, Meeks 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 36-82 14-20 91.
BOSTON (92): Pierce 3-11 8-8 14, Bass 4-9 2-2 10, Garnett 12-20 5-5 29, Rondo 6-15 1-2 13, Bradley 4-11 0-0 8, R.Allen 4-10 2-2 12, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0, Hollins 1-2 0-0 2, Dooling 2-2 0-0 4, Pietrus 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 36-82 18-19 92.
Philadelphia 28 19 24 20— 91
Boston 18 24 25 25— 92
3-Point Goals—Philadelphia 5-14 (Iguodala 3-5, Meeks 1-1, L.Williams 1-4, Holiday 0-4), Boston 2-18 (R.Allen 2-7, Pierce 0-2, Pietrus 0-2, Rondo 0-3, Bradley 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Philadelphia 49 (Turner 10), Boston 50 (Rondo 12). Assists—Philadelphia 19 (Iguodala 6), Boston 28 (Rondo 17). Total Fouls—Philadelphia 15, Boston 16. A—18,624.
Lakers stave off Nuggets in Game 7
LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol scored 23 and Steve Blake added 19 as the Lakers fought off a Nuggets rally and beat Denver 96-87 in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference series late Saturday.
Metta World Peace, returning from his seven-game suspension for throwing an elbow to the head of the Thunder's James Harden, scored 15 and Kobe Bryant had 17 for the Lakers.
Los Angeles will advance to the Western Conference semifinals against the Thunder beginning Monday.
Al Harrington and Ty Lawson each scored 24 for the Nuggets, who were trying to rally from a 3-1 series deficit.
James MVP again
MIAMI — As widely reported Friday, Heat forward LeBron James was named league MVP. He's the eighth player to win it at least three times.
"This is very overwhelming to me as an individual award. But this is not the award I want ultimately," James said. "I want that championship. That's all that matters to me."
He received 85 of 121 first-place votes from a media panel, with fans on NBA.com combining for one vote. He earned 1,074 points, topping Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (889 points, 24 first-place votes) and the Clippers' Chris Paul (385, six).
Fines: Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 for calling Miami the "biggest flopping team in the NBA." Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. was fined $35,000 for publicly criticizing officiating and calling Celtics forward Kevin Garnett "the dirtiest guy in the league," and Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson was fined $25,000 for an obscene gesture to fans.
BULLS: Derrick Rose had surgery on a torn left knee ligament. The team said it would give a recovery update this week.
LEAGUE ADMITS BAD CALL: Boston's Marquis Daniels should have been called sooner for fouling Atlanta's Al Horford with 3.1 seconds left in Game 6 on Thursday, the NBA said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. If officials had made the correct call, and away-from-the-play foul, the Hawks, down 81-79, would have been awarded a free throw and possession. The Celtics won 83-80 to clinch.