Celtics 86, Heat 84

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MIAMI (AP)—Everything went right for the Boston Celtics down the stretch.

Paul Pierce turned a potential turnover into a layup, Mark Blount came up with the night’s most important rebound, and the Miami Heat kept missing.

The combination helped Boston rally from a nine-point deficit in the final 5 1/2 minutes Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak by beating Miami 86-84.

“We just had that great sense of urgency,” Pierce said. “We could have gotten discouraged with four or five minutes to go, but we kept our composure.”

The Celtics were badly outrebounded, but Blount’s tip-in put them ahead 85-84 with 48 seconds left. The Heat’s Rafer Alston attenpted a potential game-winning shot from 25 feet, but it glanced off the front of the rim at the buzzer.

Pierce scored 29 points, including a highlight-reel drive that cut the margin to 84-83. He lost the ball, scooped it up, juked past John Wallace with a 360-degree spin and sank a layup.

Reserve Udonis Haslem scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, a record for a Miami rookie. Lamar Odom came within an assist of only the fourth triple-double in Heat history, finishing with 12 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.

“It’s a game we should have won,” Odom said. “That one hurt.”

Alston’s 3-pointer put the Heat ahead 79-70 with 5:38 left, but they shot 2-for-10 with three turnovers the rest of the way.

“Our defense was the key down the stretch,” Boston coach Jim O’Brien said. “We shut them down in the last five minutes.”

“We haven’t been playing that well,” Pierce said, “and coach has been riding us about defense being the reason. The guys who are going to play are the guys who play defense.”

The Celtics won even though they were outrebounded 52-34 and shot just 42 percent. The Heat, who have the worst shooting percentage in the NBA, also shot 42 percent and committed 17 turnovers.

Pierce, shooting 26 percent over the past three games, shook the slump by going 12-for-24 and added eight rebounds.

The Heat, playing their first home game since Jan. 7, got off to a good start as Boston missed 12 of its first 14 shots and sank just 20 percent in the first quarter.

Miami led 35-24 before the Celtics warmed up, and consecutive three-point plays by Jiri Welsch and Pierce left them trailing only 40-39 at halftime.

Eddie Jones sank a 3-pointer as Miami scored seven consecutive points to lead 68-60.

Three-pointers by Walter McCarty and Mike James started the Celtics’ comeback. With 48 seconds left, Blount outfought the 6-foot-10 Odom to tap in a miss by Pierce and put Boston ahead.

“I made it a jumping match,” Blount said. It was one of only eight offensive rebounds for Boston.

The Heat then missed their final four shots, including an off-balance 21-foot try by Jones. James rebounded that miss and sank one of two free with 8.2 seconds to go for the game’s final points.

Miami coach Stan Van Gundy was disappointed by his team’s play down the stretch.

“We took a couple of bad shots and made a couple of bad plays,” Van Gundy said. “Their defense was intense.”

Odom missed 11 of his first 12 shots and finished 4-for-17.

Heat center Brian Grant didn’t dress because of a bruised left knee, endinghis streak of 123 consecutive games.

Notes

Boston’s Chris Mihm didn’t play because of a strained left hamstring. … The Heat play 24 of their final 41 games at home. … The Celtics improvedto 6-2 when McCarty starts.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Boston
P. Pierce P. Pierce
12-24,  29 Pts
8 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Miami
L. Odom L. Odom
4-17,  12 Pts
14 Rebs, 9 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists