Rajon Rondo had a triple-double, and James missed a crucial free throw with 12.5 seconds left in the ’ 85-82 victory over Miami on Sunday. Boston improved to 3-0 against the Heat this season, taking back the top spot in the East and clinching the potential tie breaker for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The teams will play again in Miami on April 10.
“They are the defending Eastern Conference champions,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to go through them, and they ain’t going to make it easy. We understand that this isn’t going to be an easy ride for us, and that’s where we’re at our best.”
The Heat eliminated most of a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and trailed by 83-81 with 19 seconds left when it brought the ball in from a timeout and got it to James at the top of the key. He drove on Paul Pierce and drew a foul. He missed the first free throw and made the second.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, James went into the stands for the ball but knocked it to Ray Allen; the Celtics got the ball downcourt to Glen Davis, who was fouled. Davis hit both foul shots with 6.3 seconds to go, and Mike Miller missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds that would have sent the game to overtime.
The Celtics have won 12 of the last 13 against Miami, including a 4-1 series victory in the first round of last year’s playoffs; they knocked out James and Cleveland in the next round. James fled to Miami, but the Heat has still not been able to beat Boston.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points with 10 rebounds, and James had 22 points for Miami, which had won eight in a row. Pierce, who was 0 for 10 from the field and scored only 1 point — his lowest scoring total since 1999 — said he was bothered by hand and foot injuries and would have a magnetic resonance imaging test on his left foot Monday.
115, 100 Nick Young had 31 points and John Wall had 19 points and 14 assists as Washington snapped its 25-game road skid with a victory over Cleveland, which reverted to its losing ways one game after ending its record skid at 26.
MAGIC 89, 75 had 31 points and 13 rebounds as host Orlando earned its first victory over a winning team in more than a month. and Andrew Bynum each had 17 points to lead Los Angeles.
GRIZZLIES 116, 108 Darrell Arthur had a career-high 24 points and Zach Randolph led a late rally that helped host Memphis erase a 17-point third-quarter deficit. scored 28 for Denver — his sixth game in the last seven with at least 25 points.
KINGS 113, 108 Donte Greene scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as visiting Sacramento, playing without DeMarcus Cousins, ended a five-game losing streak. Cousins did not make the trip because of an altercation in the locker room with Greene after the Kings’ loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday.
IN OTHER GAMES LaMarcus Aldridge had 36 points as visiting Portland beat Detroit, 105-100, for its fourth straight victory. … Andrea Bargnani scored 27 points and host Toronto beat the , 98-93. … Monta Ellis had 32 points and David Lee added 23 points and a season-high 19 rebounds as host Golden State beat Oklahoma City, 100-94.