Wade, Heat Overcome Visiting Celtics
Miami 107, Boston 104
MIAMI, March 16 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat got off to a slow start. They ended up getting the better of the Boston Celtics regardless.
Wade scored 30 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 26 as the Heat overcame a 25-point deficit to post a 107-104 victory over the Celtics.
"They (Boston Celtics) played extremely well in the first half," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "They were focused and they had a tremendous approach to the game."
The Heat have trailed at halftime in eight of their last nine games, but are 8-1 during that stretch.
"If you really want to be respected and you want to take the step to the next level, you can't do what you did the other night (against Utah) and not be ready tonight," Riley said. "There is a real level of respect here that we are trying to get back, and I don't think just winning is enough.
"I hate to admit it, but sometimes you get bored with all the little things you have to do, especially when you are a veteran team."
The Heat chipped away at the lead, outscoring the Celtics, 30-16, in the third quarter. They took the lead for good with 4:23 to play on a basket by O'Neal.
Jason Williams scored 21 points and made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to give the Heat a 105-101 edge.
Paul Pierce scored 34 points for the Celtics and drained a deep 3-pointer with six seconds to go to make it 105-104. Williams hit another pair of free throws before rookie Orien Greene missed a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired.
"It's tough to swallow, especially when we thought we had them on the ropes," Pierce said. "Once they made their runs and made those spectacular plays, the crowd got into the game and it seemed like they had us on our heels."
Miami outscored Boston, 62-41, in the second half.
"We just didn't match their intensity in the second half," Pierce added.
Wade had only five points at halftime but finished 12-of-20 from the field and added six assists.
"I was more aware and aggressive in the second half," said Wade, who admitted to being a bit fatigued at this point in the season. "I didn't want to lose and wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win."
Udonis Haslem had 11 points and 11 rebounds and O'Neal grabbed 11 boards for the Heat, who have won 11 of their last 12 at home.
"This was a big win for us," O'Neal said. "We got down a lot there, but we fought back, and we fought back hard. We always find a way to win, and that is what good teams do."
Wally Szczerbiakscored 30 points for Boston, which is the most points he has scored as a Celtic since being acquired from Minnesota on January 26.
"They were making shots and not letting us get into our transition game," Szczerbiak said. "We still shot the ball pretty well, but against a team like that, you have to get stops."
Boston has not won in Miami since Jan. 20, 2004.