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Heat point to lack of effort

‘Worst game so far,’ says Wade

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / May 8, 2011

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The best view of the play that resulted in Rajon Rondo’s injury belonged to Dwyane Wade. It was Wade who tangled with Rondo and sent the Celtics point guard tumbling to the floor. It was Wade who practically stood over Rondo while he was writhing with a dislocated left elbow.

For the Celtics and a sold-out crowd at TD Garden, it was a gruesome, frightening twist with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter last night. For the Heat, it was a much different turn of events, as they shared a different perspective on Rondo and the game.

Boston led, 60-50, at the time of the injury, then continued to outplay Miami on the way to a 97-81 Game 3 victory. The reappearance of Rondo on the Boston bench near end of the third quarter and his return to action in the fourth inspired the home team and made the night more difficult for the visitors.

The last thing Miami needed was a newly confident opponent with an unexpected emotional boost.

“We play this game as competitors,’’ said Wade (23 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds). “You never want to see anyone get hurt, no matter what it is, what kind of injury it is. Kudos for him for coming back. That’s a tough, tough injury to come back from that fast. He showed a lot as a leader of the team to come back and have the performance that he had with that injury. We’re just glad he was able to come back. Even though people say, people think without Rondo, they’d be a different team. We want the Boston Celtics to be whole.’’

Added LeBron James: “You definitely don’t want to see anyone have freak injuries. The competitors that we all are, us against Boston, you definitely don’t want to see nothing like that happen. Injuries aside, you hope the best for him. You hope that it’s not as bad as it looked. You hope it’s not something that affects him long term.’’

Meanwhile, the Heat hope what ailed them in Game 3 will not persist. In fact, Wade, James, and Co. believe they can find a remedy by Game 4 tomorrow night. Of Miami’s eight contests this postseason, Wade called last night’s performance “the worst game so far.’’ His teammates pointed to a lack of energy and effort.

“It was frustrating that we got the loss,’’ said James Jones. “But it’s to be expected when they play harder than you. They played harder than we did tonight. They were a step quicker to everything, to loose balls. We were a step slow in our rotations. You have to give them credit for coming out with desperation and playing at a high level.’’

Knowing the Heat were outscored, 53-35, in the second half and shot less than 30 percent in the third quarter, Jones added about the final 24 minutes: “They executed and we didn’t. They came out and executed to perfection. And they strung together some stops and made big buckets. In a battle like this, one or two possessions can really change the course of the game and they were able to do that. Once they got a rhythm and flow, it was tough for us to stop.’’

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also pointed to energy and effort winning the game for the Celtics.

“That was a championship-caliber response,’’ said Spoelstra. “No other real way to put it. They came out and played extremely hard. They played harder than us and more efficiently than us. And they’ve earned that pedigree of the battles and wars that they’ve been in the last four years, where we’re trying to get to. We’re trying to take down a champion and it will be one of the toughest things we have to do collectively.’’

Shira Springer can be reached at springer@globe.com.

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