April 22, 2018
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Heat at home with Big 3 back in lineup, top Celtics

By Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel

MIAMI — Friday’s lessons at AmericanAirlines Arena: When the Miami Heat want to be good, they can be very, very good. And they’ve been very, very good at home all season.

Compensating for a ragged first quarter with an overwhelming second period, the Heat tied the franchise record for home victories in a season with Friday night’s 109-101 victory over the Boston Celtics.

After scoring 17 points in the first quarter and falling behind by 13 early, the Heat scored 41 points in the second, their high for any period this season, shooting 16 of 19 in the period, the best-shooting quarter in the NBA this season.

With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together in the lineup for the first time in three weeks, the Heat improved to 35-4 at AmericanAirlines Arena, tying the franchise record for home victories set in 2004-05, with victories in 25 of their last 27 homes games. They have two home games remaining, Sunday against the Chicago Bulls and Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Orlando Magic.

“It’s good to have most of our guys back,” coach Erik Spoelstra. “Got to keep on moving forward, work our routine.”

James showed no signs of what the Heat had been listing as a hamstring issue, with five first-half dunks on the way to 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, with nine assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes. His eighth point of the night put him at 2,000 for the season, the eighth time in his 10 seasons he has reached that total, missing only as a rookie and during last season’s lockout-shortened schedule.

Wade, who had missed six consecutive games with what the team listed as ankle and knee issues, opened 1 of 6 from the field but came around to close with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes.

“It was good to get him that many minutes,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a rhythm player, so that’s what he needed. He needed the game time both ends of the court.”

Bosh, who missed the previous three games with a sore knee and flu symptoms, added 17 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

With the Big Three back in the lineup, Spoelstra gave forwards Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier the night off to rest and deal with minor ailments.

The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, with Boston coach Doc Rivers electing to place more of a priority of Saturday’s road game against the Orlando Magic. With one more Celtics victory or one more Bucks loss, Milwaukee will be locked in as the Heat’s first-round NBA playoff opponent.

The Heat began to distance themselves with a volley of 3-pointers, with their seventh allowing them to set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a season, surpassing the 678 conversions in 1996-97.

Forward Rashard Lewis contributed three of the Heat’s 12 3-pointers, coming off the bench to score 19 points, with Heat guard Ray Allen adding 17 points against his former team, with three 3-pointers of his own.

“Rashard gave us big-time minutes,” Spoelstra said.

Forward Jeff Green, who scored 43 points in the teams’ previous meeting, this time scored 25 before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sore left wrist. As for Celtics guard Jason Terry, this time he wasn’t posterized by a James dunk, closing with six points on 3-of-9 shooting, called for a fourth-quarter technical foul for complaining about the officiating.

The Heat won the regular-season series for the first time since going 2-1 against the Celtics in 2006-06. The Celtics have now lost eight of their last nine road games.

The Heat became the 27th NBA team to win at least 63 games. On Sunday, they can become the 18th to win at least 64. The franchise record had been 61.

After falling behind by 13 early, the Heat tied it 34-34 early in the second period on consecutive 3-pointers from Allen and Norris Cole.

With the Heat’s 3-point game ignited, there then was a Cole 3-pointer off a Mario Chalmers feed, followed by a Chalmers 3-pointer of a Rashard Lewis assist.

After shooting 0 for 6 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, the Heat shot 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in the second.

“Second quarter we committed a little more,” Spoelstra said. “The ball was snapping around.”

The Heat closed with 28 assists on their 39 baskets.

Even with James, Wade and Bosh back in the starting lineup, the Heat came out surprisingly flat, missing their first five shots, falling behind 27-17 at the end of the first quarter.

James did his part with three first-quarter dunks, but there otherwise was little early on for the Heat, who started Mike Miller in place of Haslem, with James shifting to power forward.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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