Rajon Rondo played the entire game and scored 44 points, but the Celtics fell to the Miami Heat, 115-111, in overtime of Game 2 to fall behind, 2-0, in the Eastern Conference finals.
Rondo played 48 minutes in regulation and five minutes of OT, adding 10 rebounds and 8 assists to go along with his 44 points. Three Celtics fouled out of the game, including Paul Pierce, who finished with 21 points in 43 minutes.
The Celtics came out much better in the first quarter of Game 2 than they did in Game 1, hitting 56 percent of their shots on the way to a 24-18 lead. Rondo was the catalyst with 8 points and 4 assists. The Heat made just 6 of their first 22 shots to get down early.
Doc Rivers said before the game the Celtics would try to control the paint and give Miami contested 3-pointers, but that strategy hurt the Celtics in the first half when the Heat hit six of them. Miami was down just 7 at halftime despite the Celtics shooting 54 percent to Miami's 37 percent and having a 13-10 edge at the free throw line. Rondo had 22 points in the first half, the highest total of his playoff career. His previous high for a half was 19 points against Cleveland in 2010.
But letting a team hang around typically has consequences, and the Celtics were faced with them in the second half. Miami went on a 12-0 run in the third quarter and took an 81-75 lead after three.
The Celtics absorbed that blow and started punching back, taking the lead again late in the fourth quarter. A 9-0 run by Miami in the fourth was not enough seal it for the Heat. Without Pierce in the game, LeBron James missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation.
The Celtics were 33-1 this year when leading by 14 points or more. Their lone loss came in Game 4 at Philadelphia May 18. Just as after that loss, the Celtics are now left to consider whether they can bounce back. Game 3 is Friday night in Boston.
Final: Heat 115, Celtics 111. Rondo finishes with 44 points. Three Celtics foul out.
11.6 seconds OT, Heat 113-108: KG steps in front of Ray Allen and launches a three from the corner. Not sure what happened there. Rondo hits a three to give him 41.
59.7 seconds OT, Hear 110-105: Huge drive and finish by Wade for a 3-point play. KG wanted a foul called on Wade for kicking his leg out. He didn't get it. Garnett threw the ball away on the possession before trying to make one pass too many.
1:27 OT, Heat 107-105: Rondo thought he got fouled on that layup attempt, but his failure to get back leads to a wide open dunk for Haslem. Rondo's played the entire game and has 38 points.
3:33 OT, Tied at 101: Dooling fouls out on that Wade dunk. Brandon Bass in for Dooling.
End regulation, Tied at 99: LeBron misses at the buzzer over Rondo. Overtime.
34.3 seconds, Tied at 99: Ray Allen ties the game with a 3-pointer. Unbelievable.
47.7 seconds 4th quarter, Heat 98-96: Pierce fouls out on a drive by Wade. Not good.
1:36 4th quarter, Heat 96-94: Celtics struggling to run their offense and Doc Rivers calls a timeout. Big possession here.
2:14 4th quarter, Tied at 94: Battier hits a 3-pointer. Huge, huge shot.
4:02 4th quarter, Celtics 92-87: Pierce drives and kicks out to Rondo for a jumper. Don't see that too often.
6:58 4th quarter, Celtics 88-85: Celtics have absorbed the blow and are punching back. Great steal by Rondo, who goes coast to coast for the layup. The Celtics are on a 9-0 run since Garnett's technical.
8:34 4th quarter, Heat 85-81: Mickael Pietrus gets called for a clear-path foul for wrapping up LeBron James on the break. Looked like James was in the paint, but he didn't exactly look good giving the foul, either.
10:03 4th quarter, Heat 85-79: KG gets called for a technical for giving a shove to James Jones.
End 3d quarter, Heat 81-75: Miami outscores the Celtics, 35-22, in the third, including a 12-0 run in there late. James and Wade combined for 23 points in the quarter.
1:35 3d quarter, Heat 78-71: James with a block on one end, and Wade finishes on the other with that Euro-step move around Keyon Dooling. Dooling has five fouls.
2:17 3d quarter, Heat 73-71: Wade and James are drawing attention and kicking it to the open man. Twice that's been Udonis Haslem, who's been at the rim for easy attempts.
3:32 3d quarter, Celtics 71-70: Heat are almost all the way back. Doc Rivers wants a timeout. Heat are 10 for 14 this quarter.
6:05 3d quarter, Celtics 67-62: Ray Allen hits a three? Free throws for Pierce? What's going on here?
8:08 3d quarter, Heat 61-56: The Celtics are playing a little zone. Miami seems to be getting better looks here to start the second half.
10:40 3d quarter, Celtics 57-46: Good start by the Celtics getting two layups out of halftime.
Halftime, Celtics 53-46: The Celtics are playing great, but they're by no means in control of this game. Mario Chalmers (14 points, 4 assists) is trying to match Rondo, and he's doing a pretty good job. A gamble by Rondo to go to the offensive glass allowed Chalmers to float back wide open and hit a 3-pointer a couple of plays ago.
44.4 seconds, Celtics 52-44: Pierce just earned his first two free throws of the series.
1:58 2d quarter, Celtics 49-38: Rondo (20 points) hasn't sat down yet. He may not.
3:14 2d quarter, Celtics 47-35: The Celtics really miss Greg Stiemsma right now. We're getting the bad Ryan Hollins tonight.
6:47 2d quarter, Celtics 39-28: Mario Chalmers hits a shot and then yaps to Keyon Dooling all the way up the court, earning himself a technical. Doc Rivers chooses Ray Allen to shoot the technical, and he sticks it.
10:27 2d quarter, Celtics 30-18: Rondo is playing great. He's 6 for 8 on free throws after failing to get to the line once in Game 1. He's got 12 points and 4 assists.
END 1st quarter, Celtics 24-18: This is much, much better for the Celtics. They're getting better shots and making them (56 percent). On the other end, they're holding Miami to 27-percent shooting.
1:42 1st quarter, Celtics 20-15: Better start for Rondo (4 assists) and Pierce (8 points). Brandon Bass has six rebounds. Mario Chalmers fouls Rondo, Miami's first foul.
3:08 1st quarter, Celtics 16-11: That's four fouls on Greg Stiemsma in three minutes.
4:44 1st quarter, Celtics 10-9: Five team fouls on the Celtics to zero for the Heat.
5:52 1st quarter, Celtics 8-7: Better spacing for the Celtics on offense as Pierce gets to the rim for a dunk. The Celtics' 4-2 lead a few minutes ago was their first of the series.
7:09 1st quarter, Heat 7-6: Miami has gotten some wide open drives to the basket. James missed a dunk on one of them. Celtics need to improve their interior defense.
10:34 1st quarter, Tied at 2: LeBron James breaks free for a dunk. Paul Pierce wasn't happy about that, but he gets right back down the floor to nail a jumper.
MIAMI -- Pregame: The Celtics lost the rebounding battle, 48-33, in Game 1, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he doesn't want his team going for broke on the offensive glass.
"We don't mind offensive rebounds, we just want you to be under the basket to try to do it," said Rivers. "We don't want guys coming from outside the paint crashing in and having no chance of getting back."
Rivers said the problem in Game 1 was that the Celtics failed to get offensive rebounds but still had trouble defending in transition. Rivers also said he expects to play more zone tonight vs. the Heat. He said he practices zone defense with his team during every shootaround but rarely implements it in games.
Same starters, same inactives (Bradley, Johnson) for the Celtics. Let's get it.