Celtics 85, Heat 82: Celts Survive Close Call, Beat Heat For First Place In East

Paul Pierce went 0-10 and the Celtics were held to just 11 points in the fourth quarter. But Rajon Rondo's triple-double and a huge third proved enough to put the Miami Heat away for the third time on Sunday.

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Celtics 85, Heat 82: Celts Survive Close Call, Beat Heat For First Place In East

One quarter made all the difference for the Celtics on Sunday.

The Green followed up a miserable first half with one of their best quarters of the season in the third, then survived a tense fourth quarter to survive the Miami Heat, 85-82. The Celts sandwiched a 37 percent shooting first half and an 11-point fourth quarter with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor in the third to end the Heat's eight-game winning streak and reclaim the top overall record in the Eastern Conference. It was the Celts third straight win over Miami on the season and ensured the Green a win in the season series.

Kevin Garnett led the C's with 19 points and seven rebounds while Rajon Rondo registered a triple-double with 11 points, 10 boards and 10 assists. The Celts managed to win the game despite the worst game of the season by Paul Pierce, who had just one point and was 0-for-10 from the floor. Glen Davis finished with 16 points for the Celts, including two huge free throws with 6.3 seconds left, while Kendrick Perkins continued his strong play since returning from off-season knee surgery with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Heat were led by Chris Bosh, who scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and added 10 rebounds. LeBron James added 22 for Miami, but was mostly quiet on the afternoon. With a chance to tie the game from the free throw line with 13 seconds remaining, he missed the first of the two. The Heat had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Mike Miller's three-point attempt from the top of the key was wide.

The Celtics trailed 43-39 at the half, but opened the third quarter with a 21-3 run, making their first eight shots of the frame. Rondo scored nine of his 11 in the third and the Celts wound up outscoring the Heat 35-18 in the quarter.

The Celtics (39-14) play just one more game before next weekend's all-star break, on Wednesday night against the Nets in New Jersey.

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Celtics vs. Heat: Top Spot In The East Up For Grabs Sunday Matinee

No more rest for the weary Celtics Sunday afternoon. Hot on the heels of the Lakers' visit to TD Garden on Thursday night, the wounded C's must regroup for a nationally televised matinee with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the surging Miami Heat. Miami has won eight straight and, thanks to the Celts' two-game losing skid, has taken over the top spot in the Eastern Conference at 39-14, a half-game ahead of the Green.

The Celtics rushed out to a 15-point, first-half lead against L.A. Thursday night on the heels of Ray Allen's conquering of Reggie Miller's all-time, three-point shot record. But after the celebration ended, the air came out of the home team and the Lakers took advantage, blowing the doors off the Garden en route to a 92-86 win. The Celts, already undermanned, also played that game with Paul Pierce clearly suffering the effects of the flu. After another practice on Saturday with just 10 available bodies, coach Doc Rivers told ESPN Boston, "Every day is a mystery."

The Heat will be looking to take advantage. Both of their previous games against the Celts so far this season have resulted in defeats, the most recent being a 112-107 loss on Nov. 11. Since their 9-8 start, the Heat are 30-6. A win today combined with at least one more against either Indiana on Tuesday or Toronto on Wednesday would ensure them the East's best record headed into next weekend's all-star break.

The Celtics (38-14) look to bounce back from consecutive losses against the red hot Heat (39-14) today at 1 p.m. EST, on ABC.

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