This game had more big shots in it than a Mafia wedding, a politician’s birthday party in the Virgin Islands sponsored by lobbyists or, for the more genteel, a round of Masters golf.
In what turned into an exciting contest to watch, the Celtics came back from 11 down in the 4th quarter to beat the Miami Heat in overtime, 112-106.
Bookmark this game as another important move forward and milestone of growth for the Celtic’s mercurial point guard, Rajon Rondo. Let notices go out to all star voters everywhere. A(n) (All) Star is Born.
Returning to the line up after resting his sore hamstring for a game, Rajon Rondo led the Celtics in scoring with 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting while making multiple big shots.
Rondo is making strides as a true leader, including scoring leader, and is reducing his weaknesses as he goes. Of major note, Rondo was 7 for 8 from the free throw line in this closely contested game. Dwarfing even the significance of that, Rajon scored 6 huge points in overtime, including a couple of teardrops and a lay up that looked like Rondo was already by the hoop.
To me, Rondo has crossed the Rubicon. After a game like this, there is no turning back. He can now take what he did here and build on it. There will still be games and moments when he won’t come through and he will miss foul shots and jumpers. But it won’t seem so impossible any longer. His success is becoming more frequent now. You can see the progress.
His efforts secured a Celtic win after rescuing the Celtics with .6 seconds left in regulation. Those who saw it were watching the birth another reliable option in crunch times.
Moments earlier, it appeared that a Celtic victory had been stolen away. And before that, Celtic strategy and Paul Pierce’s decision could be questioned.
With time running down, Doc put the ball into Paul Pierce’s hands as he is want to do. Paul held the ball at the top as time ran off the clock. With the offense spread flat, so Pierce could work one on one, Paul attempted to go middle, but was defended fairly well and he got off a weak version of finger roll that didn’t even make the hoop. Hardly the best strategy for a game deciding sequence.
With 3 seconds left and the score tied at 99, Ray took the in bounds pass. He stumbled as he tried to make a move around Dwayne Wade. Wade, who scored 44 points in the night, stole the ball and drove for a quick dunk, leaving just .6 seconds left on the clock.
All appeared lost. That is to everyone but Rondo. From Yahoo Sports….
“We’ve been working on that play for a long time, actually since last year,” Rondo said. “As soon as Wade stole the ball, I knew exactly that was the play we were going to run.”
‘The play’ was a side in, in bounds pass to Rajon at the far side of the rim. Paul Pierce throws a perfect ‘alley oop’ lead pass to Rondo. Rajon catches and shoots a lay-up at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime 101 all. That had to be the biggest single shot of Rondo’s young career. But he didn’t stop there.
Ray Allen scored nine 4th quarter points, including two huge three pointers and a technical foul shot moments earlier, aiding a Celtic 11 point comeback to take the lead.
Quentin Richardson’s ill-timed tech
With 1:35 left and the Celtics having just regained the lead at 95-93, Richardson was called for a foul against Pierce that shouldn’t have been called, or called against Pierce. Richardson’s anger against the call resulted in a technical foul that Ray Allen hit, making it 96-93.
Shortly after, Pierce who appeared okay in the game but a bit rusty, made a big block on a Mario Chalmers lay up attempt, preserving the lead.
In the overtime, with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce missing consecutive shots, Rajon Rondo stepped forward to hit a jumper and a tear drop and a lay up. Ray Allen also made a driving lay up to go up 106-103 and with 16 seconds left, then made two foul shots for the final points of the game, putting it out of reach.
It should be noted that Kendrick Perkins got 4 critical rebounds and hit one of two foul shots in overtime. Kendrick scored 17 first half points and finished with 20, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks including one on Jermaine O’Neal late in the fourth.
You just never know when a great game will break out. There were enough shooting stars to make an astronomy club giddy. Rasheed Wallace, Dwayne Wade, Udonis Haslem, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo all made a number of clutch shots resulting an adrenaline saturated 4th quarter and overtime with multiple clutch performances.
In the big shot category, Rasheed Wallace hit two big three pointers and had a Kendrick Perkins assisted dunk in the Celtics 4th quarter surge to the lead. His last of three three pointers tied the score at 93 with 2:54 left . Wallace fouled out with a minute left in regulation, but not before scoring 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds.
Udonis Haslem had eight 4th quarter points as Miami built their 11 point lead.
Ray Allen scored 22 points and besides scoring so many big points, he added 4 steals, 2 blocked shots and 3 rebounds.
Paul Pierce had a tough time finding the hoop, going 4 for 12, but added 8 of 9 free throws as he was aggressive in getting to the line. Paul added 6 rebounds and 5 assists as he filled in wherever he could.
After giving up 35 first quarter points, Wallace and Perkins and the rest of the Cs settled down, though the Celtics gave up 56 points in the paint. Miami shot just .408. for the game. With 14 offensive rebounds, the Heat had 16 second chance points to the Celtics 6 on six offensive rebounds.
It wasn’t one of Glen Davis’ better games. He couldn’t seem to get untracked. He scored one point with 3 rebounds in almost 20 minutes.
Tony Allen played somewhat better with 9 points in 19 minutes but had 3 turnovers.
Dwayne Wade had 18 first quarter points while being guarded solely by Ray Allen and with little help. The Cs changed things up after that.
This was a game that neither team could take control of and keep. The Celtics had 24 turnovers led by Rondo with 6 and Pierce with 5. That factor alone kept the Heat in the game. The Heat had only 11 turnovers.
So the Celtics pull one out with some clutch play making and shooting. They mostly pulled it out because of Ray Allen’s clutch shooting and the emerging scoring ability of Rajon Rondo.
And in this game we get a glimpse of what Rasheed Wallace can do as a starter and in the absence of Kevin Garnett. Except for almost getting another very untimely technical at the end when he drew his 6th foul, he shows he can still produce at key times over the course of a game.
The Celtics are now 25-8 and they have won two straight games.
The Celtics next game is Friday in Atlanta against the Hawks.