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Rondo's 2 late baskets lift Celts over Heat 101-96

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 19, 2014 at 10:35 pm •  Published: March 19, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The word came shortly before tipoff: LeBron James wouldn't be playing.

Good news for Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens. But not as good as the news his team delivered down the stretch.

Jeff Green's 3-pointer broke a 94-94 tie with 2:32 left and Rajon Rondo hit two running baseline shots in the last two minutes as the Celtics broke a five-game losing streak with a 101-96 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Stevens had prepared to face James, who scored 43 points in a 100-96 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous night. But when he learned that James would sit out with back spasms, "you just move on to what's next," he said.

What came next for the Celtics was a poor first quarter in which they made 9 of 27 shots, a better second quarter and a second half in which they outscored the Heat 48-37.

"We were down 12" after the first quarter, Stevens said. "And then we hit 60 percent of our shots the rest of the way and that's why we won."

That and the Heat's second-half shooting problems. They sank 40 percent of their attempts in that half after hitting 56.5 percent. In the second half, Chris Bosh made 1 of 6 shots and Dwyane Wade hit 2 of 9.

"I was just off," Wade said as James sat in the opposite corner of the locker room dressed in jeans, a gray T-shirt and dark green ski cap while eating pasta.

"I had opportunities," Wade said with a smile. "I just couldn't go my normal 60 percent shooting self."

Rondo made his shots when the Celtics needed them, continuing to regain his skills since returning Jan. 17, almost a year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"That's the most frustrating part of my game that hasn't come back," he said of sinking floaters near the basket. "I expected it to be there. I made two tonight and have to continue to work on it."

He finished with nine points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points and career highs of six 3-pointers and nine 3-point attempts. Brandon Bass added 18 points.

"I just have that confidence in my shot," Bradley said. "We didn't only execute at the end of this game but we played great defense."

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