Heat rejects Celtics
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI — Their big early lead was gone, the Miami Heat were trailing with 3 minutes remaining and the two-time defending champions seemed very much in trouble.
They didn’t let Boston score again.
That’s how to snap a defensive slump.
LeBron James scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, Chris Bosh added 16 and the Heat beat the Celtics 93-86 on Tuesday night — finishing the game on a 9-0 run after trailing 86-84 with 3:08 left.
“It’s difficult doing what we do,” Bosh said. “But that’s why we’re the champs, to do the difficult thing again and get the job done. Tonight was a good start. We just have to build off of it.”
Chris Andersen scored 13 points and made all five of his shots for Miami, which had given up at least 100 points in four of its last six games. The Heat are 25-1 when allowing less than 100 points; 5-11 otherwise.
Brandon Bass scored 15 points, Kris Humphries had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Jeff Green had 12 points for the Celtics, who enjoyed a 46-33 edge in rebounds but shot only 39 percent.
And when it was over, Celtics coach Brad Stevens had a simple assessment of the final 3 minutes.
“LeBron James happened,” Stevens said.
James made seven free throws in the final 2:33, the only other points down the stretch coming on a jumper by Ray Allen that put the Heat up for good. James did the rest, while the Celtics missed their final four shots.
Rajon Rondo, still coming around after returning from knee surgery, missed all eight of his shots, plus a pair of free throws with the Celtics down four with 44.4 seconds remaining. Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ other starting guard, was lost in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle.
“LeBron got a bunch of calls down the stretch,” Bass said. “We expect that. We just wished we could have kept him off the line.”
The Celtics rallied from a 10-point deficit to win 111-110 in their first trip to Miami this season. They seemed poised for a bigger comeback this time, steadily chipping away at a big Miami lead by getting it down to 11 by halftime, then four entering the fourth.
And a dunk by Humphries with 3:08 left — about a half minute after James tried a reverse dunk that rimmed out — put the Celtics on top for the first time since the opening minutes.
Thus ended Boston’s offense for the evening.
TRAIL BLAZERS 97
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 46 points in the final 3:23 to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-97.
Durant has scored at least 30 points for eight consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career. He made 17 of 25 field goals, including 6 of 7 3-pointers.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 16 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 21 points for Portland (31-11).
NETS 101, MAGIC 90
NEW YORK — Andray Blatche came off the bench and had a team-high 18 points and reserve forward Mirza Teletovic added 14 points as the Nets beat the Magic for their eighth win in nine games.
One night after routing the crosstown rival New York Knicks, the Nets kept up the surge. Their 8-1 start in January is a NBA best after a disappointing 10-21 start to their second season in Brooklyn.
Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce each had 13 points apiece for the Nets.
KINGS 114, PELICANS 97
NEW ORLEANS — Rudy Gay tied a career high with 41 points, and the Kings cruised to a victory over the Pelicans.
Isaiah Thomas had 20 points and 11 assists, while DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Kings, who’ve won five of eight.
Gay hit 16 of 25 shots, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
Tyreke Evans scored 17 for New Orleans, which trimmed a 23-point first-half deficit to six shortly before halftime, only to fall behind by 23 again in the third quarter.
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