BOSTON — On the day the Boston Celtics learned they have lost Rajon Rondo for the season to a knee injury, they ended their six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, with a 100-98 double-overtime victory over the Miami Heat Sunday.
The Boston win spoiled the return of Ray Allen, who won a championship with the Celtics but left for free agency after last season. Allen scored 21 points off the bench but was just 7 for 17 from the floor.
Rondo needs surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is expected to miss the rest of the season, the team said on Sunday.
The loss of Rondo, Boston’s third-leading scorer and leader in steals and assists, is a crushing blow to a Celtics team that has lost six of its last seven games and is battling for a playoff spot.
Rondo, who is averaging 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game, was scratched from Sunday’s home game against the Miami Heat two days after he suffered the injury when he hyperextended his right knee in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
A date for Rondo’s surgery has not been determined.
In Sunday’s game, Paul Pierce hit a tough jumper with 30.4 seconds left and then, after LeBron James missed at the other end, Pierce got the rebound and was fouled. He made 1 of 2 free throws with 5.6 seconds left and the Heat called a timeout with 5.1 seconds on the clock. Miami then settled for a very long Shane Battier 3-pointer that missed and the Celtics had their 10th straight regular season home win over Miami.
Pierce finished with a triple-double, with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 11 boards.
James forced overtime with a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left and then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put his team ahead by three with 1:02 left in the second OT. Jason Terry hit on a drive and, after Dwyane Wade missed a floater, Pierce hit his jumper.
James had 34 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Chris Bosh had 16 points and 16 boards and Wade 17 points.
Allen hit a 3-pointer to help force overtime and the Celtics rallied from four down to force another extra session.
The Boston win evened the season series at 1-1 and the loss ended Miami’s four-game winning streak and dropped the Heat to 28-13. Miami eliminated Boston in last year’s conference finals and went on to win the title.
The Celtics ran a video tribute to Allen during the first timeout, boos giving way to cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd, with Celtics coach Doc Rivers out on the floor applauding after talking to his players. Allen, also cheered by Miami players, was then booed when he went to check into the game and every time he touched the ball.
Rookie Jared Sullinger moved into the starting lineup with Rondo sidelined as Rivers looked for answers. Sullinger scored on a fast break late in the second quarter and then got tangled up with Miami’s Rashard Lewis as he tried to make his way down the floor. The players received double technicals.
Notes: It was predetermined that Allen would meet the media only after the game. But he said Saturday, “I will deal with whatever emotions there are. You never know until you get there. Regardless of how they respond to me, it won’t change how I feel. I have great memories.” … Rivers, on giving rookie his fourth start: “We’re going to start Jared, more just because Jared’s playing well. Honestly, I don’t love it because I worry about our bench. Our bench has been off the charts and that may affect them. But we’re doing it because he’s playing so well.” … Rivers, on the return of Allen and the matchup: “We’ve ruined it with our play. That’s the truth. It’d be interesting if we were playing great and had a great record, then maybe some of that (hype would be warranted). But right now we have to find ourselves. We can’t be looking for Ray. Right now, we’re talking more about other stuff that’s what we should be talking.” … Rondo didn’t play in a nationally televised game and has 20 of his 28 career triple-doubles on national TV. … The Heat opened a four-game road trip and are in a stretch of 10 of 12 games on the road (they went 3-3 on the west coast) and visit the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night, while the Celtics host the Sacramento Kings. … Chris Wilcox returned to the Boston lineup after missing 19 games with a thumb injury. He came off the bench in the first quarter.