Celtics show plenty of fight, rally past Heat
Mon, 19 April 2010
LOS ANGELES — After the Boston Celtics got a spark from their bench, Kevin Garnett decided to take on the Miami Heat's bench. Reserves Tony Allen and Glen "Big Baby" Davis led a second-half rally on Saturday night as the host Celtics rallied for an 85-76 home victory over the Heat in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series opener that featured the late ejection of Garnett.
Playing in his first playoff game since 2008, Garnett let his emotions spill over in the final minute, elbowing Heat forward Quentin Richardson while trying to protect fallen teammate Paul Pierce. "Q was standing over him talking nonsense and I just asked him to give him some room," Garnett said. "Then it was chaos." Game Two is Tuesday at Boston, and it is likely that Garnett will be suspended. Replays showed him clearly land an elbow to Richardson's face.
"You make your bed, you have to lay in it," said Garnett, who missed all of last year's playoffs with a knee injury that has hampered him this season. "I am smarter than that. I have to keep my composure in a situation like that." The fourth-seeded Celtics lost seven of their last 10 games during the season but rediscovered their reserves and their defensive resolve as they erased a 14-point third-quarter deficit.
Allen was a big reason, scoring a play-off career-high 14 points while holding Heat superstar Dwyane Wade without a basket for nearly 18 minutes of the second half. Davis also was a factor with all eight of his points in the fourth quarter while helping limit the Heat to just 10 points in the period. "Tony and Baby I thought, defensively, changed the game for us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Wade scored nine points in the first five minutes of the third quarter to help the fifth-seeded Heat extend a three-point halftime lead to 61-47. But Miami had a meltdown thereafter, making just 6-of-31 shots with nine turnovers. "We just did not show a lot of composure," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "To play to that kind of pressure, a little bit of duress, a little bit of adversity, we did not respond well to it." With 40 seconds left and Boston holding an 81-75 lead, Pierce stumbled to the floor in front of the Heat bench with a recurring shoulder injury.
Garnett came over to protect his teammate while Richardson was looking to inbound the ball. "I knew nobody touched (Pierce)," Richardson said. "Is he taking a break like he does so many times?" Richardson and Garnett argued and shoved each other before Garnett threw an elbow. Players from both teams began shoving, with technical fouls going to Richardson, Davis and Heat center Jermaine O'Neal.
Garnett received two. "I think it's going to be an emotional series," O'Neal said. Pierce scored 16 points, Garnett added 15 and nine rebounds and Rajon Rondo 10 and 10 assists for the Celts. Wade scored 26 points and Richardson added 15 for the Heat. Meanwhile, Denver defeated Utah 126-113. Carmelo Anthony scored a play-off career-high 42 points for the fourth-seeded Nuggets, who scored 38 points in the fourth quarter to break open a close game in their Western Conference series opener.
Reserve J R Smith led the charge with 18 of his 20 points in the period. Deron Williams had 26 points and 11 assists for the fifth-seeded Jazz, whose injury woes continued. Already without Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko, they lost Turkish center Mehmet Okur to an Achilles tendon injury in the first half. Game Two is on Monday at Denver. Meanwhile, Cleveland defeated Chicago 96-83.
LeBron James scored 24 points and Mo Williams added 19 and 10 assists as the top-seeded Cavaliers built a 22-point third-quarter advantage, then held on against the eighth-seeded Bulls in their East series opener. Shaquille O'Neal, playing for the first time since February 25, had 12 points and five rebounds. Derrick Rose had 28 points and 10 assists for Chicago, which pulled within seven points in the fourth quarter and will try again Monday in Game Two.
Meanwhile, Atlanta defeated Milwaukee 102-92. Joe Johnson scored 22 points to lead six players in double figures for the third-seeded Hawks, who raced to a 22-point halftime lead and withstood a rally by the sixth-seeded Bucks. — DPA
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