Needing a win to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Miami Heat on Monday night, the Celtics gave as much as they could, but it wasn't enough. The C's fell in overtime, 99-90, and now find themselves mired in a 3-1 hole headed back to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
The Celts, who led by four after three quarters, were outscored 29-17 in the fourth quarter and overtime by the Heat, who got an enormous performance out of LeBron James in taking control of the series. James finished with 35 points and 14 rebounds, and made multiple huge shots down the stretch to pace the Heat. Dwyane Wade added 28 points, including 12-pf-14 from the free throw line, and Chris Bosh, invisible in Game 3, pitched in 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who trailed for almost the entirety of the game until late in the fourth quarter.
Paul Pierce led the Celts with 27 points and eight rebounds, but was held more in check in the second half and missed a fallaway jumper from the left elbow that would have won it for the C's as time expired. Kevin Garnett, so dominant in Game 3, was lost offensively, managing just seven points on a miserable 1-of10 shooting.
The Celts were hardly limited by Rajon Rondo's injury. Rondo played 38 minutes and scored 10 points to go with five assists for the home team, but didn't seem truly limited by his elbow malady. He missed a big layup in the late stages and had to sit down for a couple minutes in overtime, but was mostly solid throughout regardless. The Heat got a top of the key jumper from James early in the extra period and took off from there, outscoring the Celts 12-4 in overtime. Over the first three minutes of OT, Miami oustcored the C's 6-0, while the Celts committed three turnovers during that stretch.
Ray Allen added 17 points for the Celtics, 10 of them in the third quarter, while Delonte West, questionable for the game himself thanks to a shoulder bruise suffered late in Game 3, chipped in 10 points and three steals in 30 minutes off the bench. The Celts, who will have to win three straight games, two of them in Miami, in order to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, will hit South Beach for Game 5 on Wednesday night.