Rondo's Game 2 heroics couldn't save the Celtics

Rajon Rondo scores a basket against the Heat's LeBron James. The Celtics guard played all 53 minutes and had 44 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.
Rajon Rondo scores a basket against the Heat's LeBron James. The Celtics guard played all 53 minutes and had 44 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds. (PEDRO PORTAL / El Nuevo Herald)
Posted: June 01, 2012

Rajon Rondo posted a stat line never before seen in NBA playoff history. He was on the court for every second of a game that finished more than three hours after it started. He scored more points in a single overtime than anyone this season.

His night was called incredible, amazing, and unbelievable - and that was by the Miami Heat.

And when it was over, Rondo could only express disappointment that the Boston Celtics needed more.

LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 23 points in overtime, and the Heat took a two-games-to-none lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-111 win over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Miami, overcoming what will surely go down as the best game of Rondo's career to move within six wins of an NBA title.

"We lost," Rondo said, shrugging off talk of the historical ramifications of his night. "Simple as that."

Rondo's final numbers: 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds. He scored all 12 of Boston's overtime points, giving the Celtics the lead three times, only to have the Heat answer each of those. And when he finally missed in the extra session - on a play where Rondo said he got struck in the face by Wade - then and only then could Miami put Boston away.

Game 3 is Friday night in Boston, where the Celtics will try to make this a series. No Celtics team has successfully rallied from an 0-2 hole since 1969.

"He really played his heart out and carried the load for us offensively," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "He shot the ball, did everything possible you could ask for in him. You just hate to see an effort like that really go to waste."

Mario Chalmers scored 22 points for Miami, which got 13 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists off the bench from Udonis Haslem. The entire Celtics bench combined for seven points, five rebounds, and one assist.

Miami trailed by 15 points in the first half, making this the largest deficit the Heat have overcome to win a playoff game in their history. Miami had rallied from 14 points down to win twice before in the postseason, one of those being the game that clinched the 2006 NBA title.

"There just can't be any other way with this team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And it has to be the hard way."

The Heat won on a night where so many things - Rondo's effort included - suggested that they were going to be in trouble.

There was the big early deficit, a 7-for-20 shooting effort from the floor by James, Wade going scoreless until the final seconds of the first half, 16 missed free throws, and two missed chances to win - both shots by James - at the end of regulation.

And if all that wasn't enough, Boston's Big Four were Big again. Pierce scored 21 points before fouling out. Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and added eight rebounds. Ray Allen, ailing right ankle and all, went through two gameday shooting workouts to try to snap out of a slump and apparently did, finishing with 13 points, the last three of those coming on a three-pointer that tied the game at 99-all with 34.3 seconds left in regulation.

Miami managed to survive it all. Haslem's dunk with 1:28 left in overtime to put Miami on top for good, Wade had a three-point play with 59.7 seconds left, and the Heat won their sixth straight East finals game going back to last season.

Bobcats seek new coach

Charlotte Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said the team would hire a new head coach within the next couple of weeks, but it won't be Patrick Ewing.

Higgins said that owner Michael Jordan informed Ewing that the team planned to hire someone other than him to replace Paul Silas.

Exactly who that is remains to be seen.

Higgins says "Patrick has a lot of great qualities as a coach and he will one day be a head coach."

The Bobcats have interviewed eight candidates for the job and plan to talk with more in the next week or so. Once they conclude that process, they'll narrow the list down to the final few candidates, who will then meet with Jordan face-to-face before a final decision is made.

- Associated Press

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