Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 107, Heat 115
Celtics 107, Heat 115
The Boston Celtics made a run at a dramatic comeback victory tonight in Miami, but the Heat’s best player was just too much to overcome.
No, it wasn’t LeBron James. Nope, not Dwyane Wade, either. Heck, it wasn’t even Chris Bosh. During crunch time tonight, the Miami Heat’s best player was rookie point guard Norris Cole.
I repeat: Norris Cole.
Miami held a 20-point lead at one point in the game, and a double-digit lead for the majority of the night. Somehow, though, the Celtics found a way to storm back and cut it down to three with 2:02 remaining when Keyon Dooling drilled a 3-pointer from the corner of the court.
Seconds later, Wade missed a 14-foot bank shot and the C’s had an opportunity to cut the lead down to one, which would have been the closest they had been to Miami since the score was tied up at 4-4.
Rajon Rondo took an outlet pass from Ray Allen and then tried to thread the needle on a long pass to Keyon Dooling, who was streaking down the court on the fast break. But at the worst possible timing, this pass attempt was far too ambitious. The pass was intercepted by Wade, which promptly led to Miami’s closer coming out of the bullpen.
Little did we know that Miami would be calling on No. 30 for their biggest baskets of the game.
Nole took a pass from James at the other end of the court and pulled the trigger on a 21-foot jumper without an ounce of hesitation. The shot dropped through the net with 1:31 remaining, giving the Heat a five-point lead, and forced Doc Rivers to call a timeout.
Per usual, the Celtics were able to score a huge basket out of their timeout. Brandon Bass, who had another great game off of Boston’s bench, swished home a jumper to cut the deficit back down to three.
With the game on the line yet again, everyone on the court must have expected Wade to take the shot on Miami’s next possession. However, Boston’s zone defense, which helped to spark the big comeback, took the ball out of his hands. Sadly, it wound up in Nole’s mits, and he wasn’t missing on this night.
The rookie out of Cleveland State hit another 20-foot jumper, this time from the top of the key, just before the shot clock ran out on Miami. This bucket gave the Heat a five-point advantage with 59.6 seconds remaining. The Celtics weren’t able to score again from that point on. In the final seconds of the game, Cole grabbed a steal off of a Rondo pass and sealed the game up with two free throws. Those points gave Cole six in the final 1:31 and 14 in the fourth quarter, to go along with the steal and another huge charge he took earlier in the period.
Boston was unable to stop James and Wade early on in this game, and that’s why it fell so far behind that a win seemed like an absolute long shot. The pride of the Celtics did show through in the end, though, as they clawed back and made a contest of it.
Little did they know that a little-known rookie out of the Horizon League would ruin their miracle comeback bid by dropping his own form of Cole on the Celtics during this Christmas week.
Key Box Score Line
Finally, a Celtic not named Rajon Rondo can take claim to the Key Box Score Line.
Tonight, that man is Ray Allen, who absolutely lit up the Miami Heat and single-handedly kept the Celtics within striking distance.
Allen was a sniper on this night, racking up a game-high 28 points on a ridiculous 8-of-12 shooting from the field. He drilled six of his eight 3-pointers and all of his six free throws.
On top of his scoring, Allen was able to provide three rebounds, four assists and two steals. Those four assists were second on the team, behind only Rondo’s 12.
Boston struggled mightily in the first half, but Allen’s shooting touch prevented this game from turning into a laugher. The Celtics would have had no chance at making a run down the stretch without his great performance.
Box Score Nuggets
- Rajon Rondo shot well from the free-throw line again, making seven of his 11 attempts.
- Boston shot 12-of-19 from 3-point range.
- Ray Allen scored a game-high 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
- LeBron James scored a team-high 26 points for Miami.
- The Celtics finished with only 28 rebounds.
- Norris Cole finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench for Miami.
- Chris Bosh notched a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
- Rondo led the Celtics in rebounds (eight) and assists (12), and also scored 22 points.
- Miami attempted 35 free throws, while Boston took 27.
- Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and dished out a team-high eight assists.
- Rondo (12 assists) and Allen (four assists) were the only Celtics to accrue more than two dimes.
- Boston's largest lead was two, with the score 2-0.
- Miami scored 52 points in the paint to Boston's 28.
- It seemed as if Miami dominated the open court, but Boston actually outscored them on the fast break by a count of 23-19.
- Keyon Dooling broke out with 18 points off the bench for Boston.
- Brandon Bass played well again for the C's, notching 13 points and five rebounds off of the bench.
- James Jones was 3-for-3, all from downtown, for nine points in the game.
- The teams combined to shoot 18-of-29 from 3-point range.
- Wade finished with a game-high plus-21 in the plus/minus category, while Dooling led the Celtics with a plus-12.
Quote of the Night
Jermaine O'Neal on getting right back on the court Wednesday night in New Orleans: "I think we are more excited about playing again and trying to win. We can see where we’re at now. 0-2 is definitely where we don’t want to be, but we feel like we’re close. We’re not worrying about the back-to-backs, we’re more worried about playing good basketball and putting together a full game."