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Heat too much for Celtics in series opener

Tue., May 29, 2012

NBA: A big early Miami lead was wasted. Once the Heat took control again, they simply ran away from the Boston Celtics.

And the NBA finals are now three wins away for LeBron James and the Heat.

James scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat beat the Celtics 93-79 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at Miami.

Shane Battier, playing in the conference finals for the first time, scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds for the Heat, who wasted an early 11-point first-half lead before running away to break a halftime tie. Miami outrebounded the Celtics 48-33 and blocked 11 Boston shots.

Kevin Garnett scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Boston, which got 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from Rajon Rondo and 12 points from Paul Pierce.

It’s the third straight year the Heat and Celtics have met in the playoffs, the third straight year James has seen his postseason path go through Boston as well – the first of those matchups coming in 2010, his final run with Cleveland.

Each of those came in the first or second rounds, not this close to the NBA finals. And while both sides would say there’s a long way to go in this series, Game 1 winners have a decided edge in any best-of-seven, the conference final being no exception. In the most recent 10 postseasons, teams with 1-0 leads in conference finals have advanced 15 out of 20 times.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.

Loyola of Maryland takes Lacrosse title

Lacrosse: Unranked at the beginning of the season, Loyola of Maryland is No. 1 at the end.

Loyola beat the University of Maryland 9-3 at Foxborough, Mass., to win the NCAA men’s national championship, three months after the Greyhounds were miffed at being overlooked in preseason polls.

“We knew what we had in our locker room through the whole year. It’s just been an unbelievable journey,” said Eric Lusby, who scored four goals and set an NCAA record with 17 in the tournament.

Loyola completed one of the most rewarding runs possible, going from unranked to No. 1 seed and finally national champion. The top-seeded Greyhounds captured their first NCAA title and finished the season 18-1.

Shackleford wins at Belmont Park

Horse racing: Shackleford held off a furious rush to the finish by Caleb’s Posse and won the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap by a nose on a steamy Monday at Belmont Park in New York.

The stretch run was a thriller.

Shackleford led from the start, and when the field turned for home Caleb’s Posse came charging down the stretch. But the Preakness winner dug in for the win, with hard-luck Caleb’s Possse losing a photo finish for the third straight race.

Belle Royale victorious: Belle Royale defeated Quiet Oasis by a half-length and won the $250,000 Gamely Stakes on Monday at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., giving trainer Simon Callaghan and jockey Joel Rosario back-to-back wins in the Grade 1 race.

USC’s Johnson repeats in tennis

Miscellany: Steve Johnson of Southern Cal won his second straight NCAA men’s singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kentucky’s Eric Quigley at Athens, Ga.

Johnson ended his college career with 72 consecutive victories, finishing the season 32-0.

Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs rallied to beat teammate Mallory Burdette 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to win the women’s title.

Noren among qualifiers for U.S. Open: Alex Noren of Sweden qualified for the U.S. Open for the second straight year, while past and present European Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal failed to do so at Walton Heath, England.

Noren shot rounds of 67 and 68 in the 36-hole qualifying tournament. He joined Marc Warren of Scotland (70, 65) at 11 under as the leading players of the 11 qualifiers.

Daska wins Bolder Boulder race: Mamitu Daska took the lead a mile in and she never looked back to win the 6.2-mile Bolder Boulder road race at Boulder, Colo.

The 24-year-old Ethiopian won in 33 minutes, 6.50 seconds. Janet Cherobon- Bawcom (33:23.57) was second, and American Deena Kastor (33:28.57) was third.

Allan Kiprono of Kenya was the men’s winner in 29:54.43.

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