Heat 91, Celtics 79
BOSTON (AP)—Sixteen losses in a row. That’s one for each of those shiny gold trophies the Boston Celtics have been lording over the rest of the NBA for all these years.
The league’s most decorated franchise, the Celtics extended their team-record losing streak to 16 games on Wednesday night with a 91-79 loss to the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade had 30 points and nine assists as Miami went on a 19-2 run to erase a 12-point, first-quarter deficit and coast to its fifth consecutive victory.
“That’s a team who’s very hungry to get a win, and the world champions come in and you expect nothing but the best from them early on. So they came out the way we expected,” Wade said. “We just had to weather the storm.”
Shaquille O’Neal scored nine points while playing 25 minutes as he recovers from knee surgery. Jason Kapono scored 19 and Udonis Haslem had nine points and 10 rebounds for the defending champions, who pulled within a game of .500 for the first time since they were 3-3.
Wade had six points and an assist during a 13-4 Miami spurt at the beginning of the third that made it 57-44. The Heat then started the fourth with a 14-3 run to blow it open.
“We are defending champs, so we’ve got some talent. And if we get healthy and guys get together and get in decent shape, then we’re a pretty good team,” Heat coach Ron Rothstein said. “We didn’t exactly beat them with our effort, we beat them with our talent.”
Al Jefferson had 13 points and 16 rebounds for Boston, which has not won since beating Memphis on Jan. 5. Now the Celtics and Grizzlies are fighting for the best spot in the draft lottery and a chance to draft Ohio State’s Greg Oden or Texas’ Kevin Durant.
“I actually thought tonight was the first game Wally looked like he was getting his legs back. He made some shots, we were finding ways,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “So it’s frustrating. It’s tough.”
Already without Paul Pierce, Tony Allen and Theo Ratliff, the Celtics now face adding Szczerbiak to the injured list. The outside shooting specialist crumpled to the floor near the Boston bench with 3:26 left in the third quarter when he jumped to try to block a shot and landed on teammate Leon Powe’s foot.
“Step on your teammate’s foot on the bench? What else can go wrong?” Szczerbiak said. “It’s like, gee, it’s one of those things. … It’s just frustrating, right when I was starting to feel better.”
Pierce was to remain at New England Baptist hospital overnight with an infected left elbow and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break. The Celtics are 2-22 without him.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, at 6-foot-9 the tallest player in the NHL, posed for pictures with O’Neal before the game. … The Celtics scored 27 points in the first quarter and 31—combined—in the second and third. … Wade was one assist short of matching his career high with his 16th double-double of the season. But he did manage to score at least 20 points in a franchise-record 16th straight game.