MIAMI (AP)—The Boston Celtics almost let another game slip away.
Instead, Antoine Walker and Walter McCarty each hit 3-pointers in the final 2:27 and the Celtics took sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 94-86 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday night.
On Saturday, the Celtics gave up the final seven points in a loss to Orlando. Against Miami, Paul Pierce’s two free throws with 3:32 left in the third quarter gave Boston its biggest lead, 73-59, before Miami went on a 24-10 run to tie the game at 83 on Travis Best’s free throw with 3:33 remaining in the game.
“We played a lot of close games lately,” Celtics coach Jim O’Brien said. “It’s good to win them.”
Pierce scored 32 points for the Celtics, who moved a half-game ahead of idle Orlando. The Magic have two regular-season games remaining, while the Celtics close the regular season at home against Detroit on Wednesday.
The Celtics never trailed, and Miami coach Pat Riley went to his bench early.
“They were playing young guys,” said Walker, who finished with 24 points. “These guys were trying to impress Riley. We gave them the opportunity to get back in the game, then we held on and won.”
Caron Butler led Miami with 20 points, but sat out the final nine minutes of the game.
“I thought Caron played extremely well,” Riley said. “We were down 12 or 14 points when he was on the court and I stayed with the guys that brought us back.”
After Best tied the game at 83, Boston responded with a 7-0 spurt highlighted by the 3-pointers by McCarty and Walker and a free throw by Pierce.
Boston led the entire first half. Miami got within three, 41-38, when Butler hit a 3-pointer with 3:09 remaining in the second quarter. The Celtics then scored eight straight points on two three-point plays by Pierce and Walker andtwo free throws by Pierce.
Pierce and Walker combined to score 50 or more points for the 24th time this season. … Butler has at least one steal in his last 16 games. Earlier in the season, Butler had a similar streak of 22 games. Those are the two longest streaks by a rookie this season. … Miami was called for goaltending five times. … NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson attended the game and sat next to the Heat bench and his former coach, Pat Riley. Johnson is in Miami for aspeaking appearance.