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Heat knock off Celtics behind LeBron James’ 29 points

Despite a valiant effort from a depleted Celtics [1] team, the Heat nudged out a victory on Tuesday night, 93-86, in Miami.

Boston (14-29) played without two of its shooting guards, and Rajon Rondo [2]‘s minutes were still limited, but a strong showing from some unlikely characters on the bench kept the game close.

LeBron James [3] led all scorers with 29 points, and he also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Chris Bosh added 16 points.

Brandon Bass [4] led Boston with 15 points off the bench. Kris Humphries (14 points), Jeff Green [5] (12 points), Jared Sullinger (12 points) and Chris Johnson [6] (11 points) also chipped in.


Johnson debuts: Injuries to shooting guards Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley [7] necessitated minutes of play from Johnson [6], who joined the Celtics [8] late last week. In his first action with Boston, Johnson, the 6-foot-6 swingman from Dayton [9], finished with 11 points. His debut began with a pair of corner 3-pointers only two minutes apart. Before he drilled his first triple, Boston trailed 34-17; by the end of the half the Celtics had cut the deficit to 11. Johnson quieted until the fourth quarter. In the final frame he converted an and-1 play on Anderson, the Heat’s best shot-blocker; then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in; and finally dished out a beautiful assist to Humphries for an easy dunk.

Rebounding: It’€™s well known that the Heat’€™s one weakness is a lack of an interior presence, and more specifically, major issues with rebounding. Boston exploited Miami on the boards, as it held a commanding 46-33 advantage in rebounding. Humphries led the way with 13 rebounds. Sullinger also added 11 boards, including eight offensive.

Bass boost: Bass’€™ final line does not light up a stat sheet, but in a game where Boston desperately needed someone to step up because of injuries, and a general lack of a go-to scorer this season, Bass answered the call. The three-year Celtic came off the bench for 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes. It was Bass’€™ third double-digit scoring game in his last five.

Double trouble: Both Sullinger and Humphries aided in the Celtics’€™ exploitation of the Heat on the boards with double-doubles. Humphries notched 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Sullinger scored 12 points and grabbed 11 boards. They both excelled in the second half after a sloppy first half. The starting forwards combined for four points, 11 rebounds and a dreadful 1-for-8 shooting line in the first 24 minutes.


Points in the paint: Boston showed its inferiority inside on offense and defense, particularly in the first quarter. Some stats that highlight this point: In the first seven minutes, the Heat led 16-7 and scored 14 points in the paint to the Celtics’€™ zero; It took Boston until the 3:04 mark to register its first points in the paint; and at the end of the quarter, Miami held a 16-4 advantage on inside points, which contributed to the Heat’€™s 14-point lead.

Bradley injured: With Bayless temporarily out, MarShon Brooks no longer a Celtic and a hampered Rondo, the last thing Boston needed was an injury to its most dependable guard. But that’€™s exactly what happened against Miami, as Bradley left early in the second quarter with a sprained ankle. The injury occurred when the shooting guard was engaged in his usual full-court defense, and his right ankle rolled outwardly. This left Boston with Pressey, Johnson and a limited Rondo as the only three available guards.

Rusty Rondo: For the second straight game, the effect of Rondo’€™s extended absence showed. Rondo scored just one point and failed to make any of his eight field goals. He also missed a pair of free throws with 44 seconds remaining that would have cut the deficit to two, and then missed a shot on the Celtics’ next possession. Rondo had six points on 3-of-10 shooting in Boston’s 93-91 loss to Orlando Sunday.