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Heartbreaker: Jeff Green puts on show for the ages but Heat win 23rd straight

LeBron James [1] rattled home the game-winning basket with 10.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter and finished with 37 points and had 12 assists to lead the Heat to their 23rd straight win, a 105-103 decision over the Celtics [2] Monday night at a crazed TD Garden. The win streak is now alone as the second-longest in NBA history with only the 33-game streak of the Lakers in 1972 surpassing it.

The James shot spoiled one of the greatest single-game performances in Celtics history as Jeff Green [3] finished with 43 points in a losing cause. In a season of unparalleled regular season drama, Green nearly single-handedly ended the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Green, starting for Kevin Garnett [4], had a career high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting.

The Celtics learned before the game they would not have Kevin Garnett in their quest to end Miami’s 22-game winning streak as the superstar was sent home [5] by coach Doc Rivers [6] with flu-like symptoms. Filling in was Green, making his third start of the season, and he put on one of the most spectacular single-game performances in Celtics history.

In a remarkably fast and furious first half, the Heat shot out to a 19-14 lead thanks to seven points from James. But Green led the Celtics on a stunning 17-0 run to end the quarter and put the Celtics up, 31-19, after 12 minutes.

Green and the Celtics continued their run in the second quarter, twice building the lead up to 17 points in the first three minutes of the period.

Green finished the first half with 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 20 minutes. The Celtics, as a team, were blazing hot in the first half, hitting 23-of-37 shots (62.2 percent) from the field.

The highlight of the surreal first half came with just under six minutes left. Dwyane Wade [7] stole the ball from Jason Terry [8] just before midcourt and fed Mario Chalmers [9]. Norris Cole took the dish from Chalmers and lobbed a pass up near the rim and James, trailing the play, finished in authoritative style, dunking viciously over Terry [10], who tried in vain to block it. Terry was called for a foul and James for called for a technical for taunting Terry on the court.

Seconds later, Avery Bradley [11] block Cole on a dunk attempt and that led to a Paul Piece 3-pointer in transition, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium and putting the Celtics up 52-38. The Heat made a key run at the end of the half, outscoring Boston 15-6 to close to within six at halftime, 59-53.

The Heat came out and scored the first eight points of the third quarter to take their first lead since before Boston’s 17-0 run. The Celtics answered and this time it was the captain leading the way, as Pierce five quick points. The game went back and forth before Green again took over late in the third. He scored 12 points in the final six minutes of the quarter as Boston took an 82-78 lead into the final 12 minutes.

As Green approached his previous career high of 37 points, booming chants of “Jeff Green” came from the stands.

Green hit a three from the left baseline with a minute left in the third quarter, giving him a new career high of 38 points on 12-of-16 shooting in just 30 minutes.

Jordan Crawford hit a deep three with 8:27 left and the Celtics, sensing the end of the Heat’s 22-game win streak, led 96-83. But the Heat answered with the next nine points, cutting the Celtics lead down to four, 96-92, on a James layup. But Courtney Lee [12] countered with a corner three with 5:17 left to restore the Celtics’ lead to seven, 99-92.

The Heat responded with the next four points. A Wade dunk with 3:06 left pulled Miami within two and a Chalmers three with 2:40 put the Heat up, 101-100, capping a 18-4 run. James missed a layup with 2:01 left that would’ve put Miami up three.

Bradley hit a wide open baseline three with 1:49 left to put Boston back up, 103-101. The Celtics appeared to get the ball on a ball out of bounds with 1:26 left but video replay overturned it. James got the ball in the lane and converted a layup with 1:24 left to tie the game.

After a miss on the offensive end, the Celtics answered with great defense, forcing a 24-second violation and getting the ball back with 45 seconds left. Brandon Bass [13] missed a layup with 31 seconds left. James then hit a three over Green with 10.5 seconds left to put the Heat up, 105-103.

After Shane Battier [14] defended a Green drive to the basket, the ball went out of bounds with 7.2 seconds left. The Celtics retained possession but Pierce missed an off-balance three from the right wing with seven seconds left. Miami got the rebound and sealed the game.

For complete coverage of the Garden classic from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics [15].