BOSTON – Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists and scored the final three points of the Boston Celtics’ 93-91 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday night that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
Getting a huge break when LeBron James fouled out for the first time since joining the Heat, the Celtics recovered after blowing an 18-point lead in regulation and moved two games away from a third trip to the NBA finals in five years.
Kevin Garnett added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, while Paul Pierce scored 23 points before fouling out. Ray Allen finished with 16 points.
“Stops,” Rondo said when asked what was the difference in the tight game. “I think we executed offensively, came up with some lucky plays and we got stops at the end.”
James had 29 points and Dwyane Wade scored 20 after another dismal start for the Heat, who host Game 5 on Tuesday.
In a game that started as a Celtics blowout and turned into a foul- and tension-filled fourth quarter, followed by the second overtime in this series, the Celtics held on when Wade missed a potential winning 3-pointer on the last possession.
“We knew they were going to Wade. I wanted to check him,” Rondo said. “They set a great pick. … We’re lucky we got a stop.”
After leading 61-47 at halftime, Boston overcame its second-half stall on the offensive end by limiting the Heat to just one basket in overtime, by Udonis Haslem.
Rondo’s layup gave the Celtics a 92-91 lead with 2:34 left, and neither team scored again until he made a free throw with 21 seconds to play. Wade saw his potential winning attempt bounce off the rim as time expired.
With the Celtics down by two, Pierce and Rondo made consecutive layups for an 85-83 edge with 3:08 to go in regulation. But with the Celtics up three, they lost James, who was wide open for a 3-pointer that evened it at 89 with 37.5 seconds left.
Garnett was called for an offensive foul on the next possession, giving the Heat the ball back with 21 seconds left. But they passed it around too long, leaving them with a long forced attempt from Haslem that was well off.