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Heat's 1-2 punch wobbles Celts

Heat star LeBron James dunks on Boston’s Jeff Green in the first half. James has 57 points in the first two games of the series.

Associated Press

Heat star LeBron James dunks on Boston’s Jeff Green in the first half. James has 57 points in the first two games of the series.

MIAMI — With the outcome decided in the final seconds, LeBron James walked toward Mario Chalmers to begin his version of a celebration.

He playfully punched his teammate twice in the chest.

Fitting, because James and the Heat have now landed two blows against the Celtics.

James had 24 of his 35 points in the second half, Dwyane Wade scored 28 and Miami used a late 14-0 run to pull away and beat aching Boston 102-91 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday night.

"Feel good about it," James said. "Series is far — far, far, far — away from over. It's really just beginning for us."

James logged 44 minutes with no turnovers. Chris Bosh had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Miami, which leads the best-of-seven series 2-0.

Game 3 in Boston is Saturday, and the Celtics might be particularly thankful for the break.

Rajon Rondo played through a balky back to score 20 and add 12 assists for Boston, which got 16 points from Kevin Garnett and 13 from Paul Pierce — who retreated to the locker room for treatment on his strained left Achilles' in the first half. Ray Allen had seven points and left with what he said was a bruised chest cavity thanks to an elbow from James in the third quarter.

"Being down 2-0 doesn't scare any of us, doesn't make us nervous," Allen said. "It's just an opportunity to come out shining."

Boston tied it at 80 on two free throws by Pierce with 7:10 left. The Celtics missed their next six shots and Miami pulled away.

"That's our staple. We know the only way for us to win games, especially in the playoffs, is to play defense," James said.

Miami's big run included a three-point play where James dunked and got fouled after Joel Anthony kept an offensive rebound alive. Chalmers started it with a 3-pointer.

This is the ninth time Boston has dropped the first two games in a best-of-seven. Only once — against the Lakers in the 1969 Finals — has Boston won.

"Nothing we can do about it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We've got a third game and we've got to take care of that. Whatever the past is, it is.

"We can't allow them to play like this, or it's going to be tough at our place."

In this series, Boston needs 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.

Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (calf) sat out after scrimmaging in practice on Monday.

Heat 102, Celtics 91

BOSTON (91): Pierce 5-11 2-2 13, Garnett 8-20 0-0 16, J.O'Neal 2-7 4-5 8, Rondo 7-16 6-8 20, Allen 2-7 2-2 7, Davis 2-7 2-3 6, Green 4-6 1-2 11, Krstic 0-1 0-0 0, West 4-4 0-0 10, Wafer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-79 17-22 91.

MIAMI (102): James 14-25 5-8 35, Bosh 5-10 7-11 17, Ilgauskas 1-5 0-0 2, Bibby 3-6 0-0 8, Wade 8-20 11-13 28, Anthony 1-2 4-4 6, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 1-1 0-0 3, Chalmers 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 34-75 27-36 102.

Boston 26 16 25 24— 91

Miami 27 20 25 30— 102

3-Point GoalsBoston 6-11 (West 2-2, Green 2-2, Allen 1-2, Pierce 1-4, Rondo 0-1), Miami 7-16 (Bibby 2-4, James 2-4, Miller 1-1, Wade 1-3, Chalmers 1-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBoston 49 (J.O'Neal 9), Miami 51 (Bosh 11). AssistsBoston 18 (Rondo 12), Miami 15 (Bosh 4). Total FoulsBoston 24, Miami 22. TechnicalsBoston Coach Rivers. A20,104 (19,600).

Late Monday: Mavs rally to stun Lakers

When Kobe Bryant drained a 3-pointer to put the Lakers up by 16 points in the second half Monday, nobody would have been surprised if the Mavericks packed it in. After all, these perennial underachievers aren't known for their playoff tenacity.

But their stirring comeback against the two-time defending champions showed that Dirk Nowitzki and his Mavs just might be capable of creating whole new reputations this spring.

Nowitzki scored 28 and hit two go-ahead free throws with 19.5 seconds left, Jason Kidd forced a crucial turnover moments later, and the Mavericks escaped with a 96-94 victory in Game 1 when Bryant missed two late chances to steal it back for the host Lakers.

Jason Terry scored 15 and Nowitzki had 14 rebounds for the Mavericks, who erased that huge third-quarter deficit before the dramatic finish to open the teams' first postseason meeting in 23 years.

The Mavericks trailed 92-87 with 3:32 to play.

"I thought we did a great job hanging in there," Nowitzki said. "It wasn't looking good, but we talked about in the huddle. Just stick with it, try to get some stops, don't turn the ball over, and get a shot up every time."

Asked about missing the potential game-winner and the fumbling of a 16-point lead, Bryant dryly stated: "I'm not clutch."

ROOKIE HONOR: The Associated Press reported that Clippers forward Blake Griffin will be named Rookie of the Year today. A formal announcement from the league isn't due until today but the team announced a news conference for the presentation of a major award, and Rookie of the Year is the only one left.

Heat's 1-2 punch wobbles Celts 05/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 12:11am]
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