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Kevin Garnett and his fellow Celts starters played limited minutes Sunday, but Boston's defense went all 48, holding Miami to an NBA-low 17 field goals.
Boston 88, Miami 62
Then he did.
"They got D-Leaguers out there, so I think we just handled our business," the Boston forward said, listing some of the five Miami players who spent time in the NBA's developmental league this season. "We're supposed to do that. We knew this was a game we were supposed to win, and we just focused from the jump and went out and did it."
Then he slapped Garnett on the head and said, "Let's go."
The Celtics limited Miami to 17 baskets -- the fewest in the NBA's shot-clock era -- and coasted to an 88-62 victory on Sunday night to solidify their hold on the league's best record and leave the Heat firmly in control of the worst.
Garnett scored twice before Miami made a basket, Ray Allen followed with a pair of 3-pointers and Boston opened a 27-4 lead in the first quarter. Celtics coach Doc Rivers started subbing for his starters just 7:10 into the game, letting the backups handle the end of the first quarter, most of the second and all of the fourth.
"We are trying to prepare and get ourselves ready for the playoffs," said Garnett, who finished with 12 points, five assists and eight rebounds. "The competition is what should motivate you. We definitely didn't want to lose the game or mess around. So we just came out aggressive and never looked back."
The Boston bench built a 31-point lead before Miami made its last two shots to finish with 17 field goals, still fewer than the 18 made by the Chicago Bulls against the Heat on April 10, 1999.
"Oh, did we?" said Ron Rothstein, the Miami assistant who ran the bench while head coach Pat Riley missed his fourth game to resume his college scouting tour. "How about that?"
"We tried to do a lot of stuff," Rothstein said. "There's just not a lot of stuff we can run with the new guys, and they just took out everything we tried to run. It's tough."
The Celtics, who are 58-15 with nine games in the regular season, already have their highest win total since 1986-87, when Larry Bird led the defending NBA champions back to the finals. The year before, Boston won 67 games and the last of its 16 titles.
The Celtics scored 11 of the game's first 13 points, then took a 23-point lead as Miami made just one of its first 15 shots. Davis made a three-point play and Blake Ahearn followed with a 3-pointer to help the Heat avoid their worst quarter of the season.
Miami shot 17.6 percent in the first quarter and 28.8 percent for the game.
Notes: Davis needs four points to reach 1,000 for the sixth consecutive season. ... Rivers and Riley sat together for last week's Georgetown-Davidson NCAA tournament game. Rivers was watching his son, Jeremiah; Riley was scouting.