Rajon Rondo played a tremendous basketball game, but at the end of the day, the Miami Heat were just a little bit better. Rondo had a career-high 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and turned the ball over three times while playing in 53 minutes (otherwise known as every second of the Boston Celtics' 115-111 overtime loss to Miami), becoming the first player in Celtics' history with more than 40 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. Putting all of the criticism surrounding the officiating aside (for the record, I acknowledge that the calls were egregious at points, but it's not why they lost), the Heat stepped up their game in the clutch, leaving Rondo's stats meaningless.
"It's irrelevant," Rondo said about his historic yet fruitless performance. "We lost, simple as that."
Rondo's right. All of that hard work, for nothing. Sure, the diehards will remember this game. It will live on in record books, but not in the win column. It's a shame, it really is. How did this happen? The guy scored 22 points in each half (if you count the overtime as part of the second half). He even scored 12 points in the extra period. Know how many points the Celtics scored in OT? 12.
Miami won the game because they had the best two players on the floor, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and they even got a little help from some unexpected places. James and Wade did their thing, with LeBron totaling 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Wade scoring 23, but Mario Chalmers had 22 points and Udonia Haslem had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
James and Wade carried the load in the second half, specifically in the third quarter, when Wade had 12 and LeBron had 11 points. Wade and James combined for seven points in the third -- Wade only had one -- but Wade closed out the game with eight points in overtime and LeBron added four. Not their best stuff, but enough to get the job done. Sometimes, that's all that it takes.
Rondo and his Celtics now have a challenge on their hands. Every game from here on out is a must win. Lose in Game 3 on Friday night in Boston, and the series is over. Win on Friday and lose on Sunday, they would have to win the next three games. Not a lot of room for error. Still, this group won't quit. They wouldn't quit even if they were down by 20 in the fourth quarter of Game 4 trailing 0-3 in the series. That's just their makeup. As Kevin Garnett said, "grit and balls."
Boston is a tough bunch, and it should be commended for that, as should head coach Doc Rivers. No doubt, this is a pretty special bunch, and they have overachieved greatly. Sometimes, you can't escape reality. It's unfortunate for the Celtics, but all signs point to Miami being the team that will bring an end to their improbable run. No shame in that, they fought hard to the end. Anything can happen, but the Heat are on fire, and it's looking like the Celtics won't be able to put them out.