June 21, 2018
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Celtics capitalize on James’ absence, knock off Heat

Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen (34) dribbles the ball as Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley defends during the fourth quarter at TD Garden in Boston Wednesday night. The Celtics won 101-96.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics won’t have a lot to show for their rebuilding season. One thing they will have is the season series against the Miami Heat.

The Celtics, taking advantage of forward LeBron James’ absence caused by back spasms, trailed by 14 points in the first half but came back to end a five-game losing streak with a 101-96 win over the reigning NBA champions.

The victory gave Boston (23-46) a 2-1 win in the season series. The teams split two games in Miami.

Boston guard Avery Bradley scored 23 points and went 6-for-9 from 3-point range, and his team finished 13-for-28 from behind the arc. Point guard Rajon Rondo scored nine points, four of them late, and he dished out 15 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Rondo hit a big runner to give the Celtics a five-point lead with 1:44 left and then did it again with 18.7 seconds remaining.

Forward Brandon Bass scored 18 points and forwards Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Celtics.

Guard Dwyane Wade led the Heat (46-20) with 17 points, but he shot just 2-for-9 from the floor in the second half. Forward Chris Andersen came off the bench to contribute 16 points and eight rebounds, including 10 points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter. Forward Udonis Haslem scored all of his season-high 14 points in the first half, and former Celtics guard Ray Allen had 14 points.

Miami big man Chris Bosh grabbed 11 rebounds, none in the fourth quarter, and scored just six points, none in the final quarter.

Haslem, who, like Wade, has three championship rings with Miami, made his first start since Nov. 7 and hit his first six shots. He was 7-of-8 from the floor in the first half. He came into the game averaging 2.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, but he had 14 points and four boards in the first half as his team led by as many as many as 14 early in the second quarter.

The Celtics chipped away. Trailing by six at halftime, they took their first lead since 2-0 on a layup by Green off a nifty feed from Rondo that made it 63-61 in the third quarter.

The Heat were guilty of only five fouls and four turnovers in the first half, and they doubled both totals just 5:19 into the second half, allowing the Celtics to grab control. The visitors had eight turnovers and six fouls in the third.

NOTES: James was a late scratch. The move was made after Miami coach Erik Spoelstra met the media pregame. … G Dwyane Wade, who usually doesn’t play in back-to-backs, sat out Tuesday and played Wednesday, while C Greg Oden, still working his way back from knee troubles, played Tuesday and sat Wednesday. … Former Celtics G Ray Allen, who heard more boos than cheers when entering the game in the first quarter, on the possibility of having his number retired at TD Garden: “Regardless of what happens in the rafters, I look up and see a (championship) banner and that’s what makes it so special.” … The Heat are home for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Celtics are at Brooklyn Friday night.

Nets 104, Bobcats 99

NEW YORK — Led by guard Deron Williams, who scored a game-high 25 points, the Brooklyn Nets had six players score in double figures in a 104-99 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets won their season-best 10th straight game at Barclays Center, their longest home winning streak since 12 consecutive victories in 2005. Brooklyn is 17-2 in its last 19 home games.

Forward Joe Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds, guard Shaun Livingston had 17 points and one steal, extending his career-high streak to 11 games with at least one steal, center Andray Blatche had 13 points and five boards and center Mason Plumlee added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Nets, who have won five out of their last six games.

Center Al Jefferson had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bobcats. Guard Gary Neal had 17 points, 15 in the second half, forward Chris Douglas-Roberts and guard Gerald Henderson scored 13 points apiece and center Cody Zeller had 10 points and six boards for the Bobcats, who dropped a second straight game after winning four in a row.

Guard Kemba Walker, who averages 17.8 points per game, was held to just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting, although he also had seven assists and four rebounds.

Brooklyn (35-31) led throughout the second half until Douglas-Roberts buried a 3-pointer with 9:16 left in the fourth to tie the score at 77.

Charlotte (33-36) took its first lead of the second half when forward Josh McRoberts converted a three-point play with 6:12 left in the fourth to put the Bobcats in front 85-82.

But Williams, who also has one or more steals in 16 straight games — the longest active streak in the NBA — answered with five straight points, including a 3-pointer, to put Brooklyn back in front 87-85 with 5:29 left in regulation.


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