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Heat leave Celtics green with envy after win

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Miami Heat's Big Three were reunited for the first time since March 29 -- even though two of them were wearing some green.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics' Big Three weren't wearing any green at all -- they were not in the lineup.

That was the difference Friday night as the Heat defeated the Celtics 109-101 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

As for borrowing from the Celtics' color scheme, the Heat's LeBron James said the lime-green shoes that he, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sported had nothing to do with Boston.

"It was save the best for last Green Week," James referring to an NBA recycling promotion. "Myself, D-Wade and ‘Rio had the opportunity to wear some shoes to recognize a great cause but also be a part of that Heat swag. The good part about it is that we did it in a win."

James, who had missed four of the past six games because of an injured hamstring, had 20 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

"It was good to get some continuity and get our legs under us," said James, who before the game was given the trophy for being named Eastern Conference Player of the Month, an award he has won five straight months. "We only have a week until the playoffs."

Wade, who had missed six straight games because of knee and ankle injuries, had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Chris Bosh, who had missed three straight games because of a hyper-extended knee and the flu, had 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Heat also got strong performances off the bench from Rashard Lewis (19 points) and Ray Allen (17 points). In fact, the Heat bench outscored Boston's reserves, 52-14.

"Their substitutes beat our substitutes," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

But the return of the Heat's stars was the most significant development in a game that otherwise had no meaning for Miami. The Heat has already clinched the top seed for the playoffs and the best record in franchise history.

Miami is 63-16 overall, 35-4 at home and 27-2 since the All-Star break. Its post-All-Star record is the best in NBA history so far, with three games still to be played.

Meanwhile, Boston was without its Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Boston has been without Rondo (knee injury) for most of the year, and he won't return until next season. But Pierce and Garnett -- both out with ankle injuries -- are expected to return in time for the playoffs.

With those guys missing, Boston was led by Jeff Green (25 points and eight rebounds) and Jordan Crawford (20 points).

However, Green took a hard fall after a dunk, hurting his left elbow.

"I don't think his injury is bad," Rivers said. "But we'll find out more (Saturday).

"I thought Jeff Green played great. He attacked the basket early on, but (the Heat) did a great job of clogging the middle. We missed shots, and the more we missed shots, the more they clogged the middle to take away Jeff's drives."

Said Green about his injury: "The nerve went numb, and it wouldn't come back as fast as I wanted. But I'm fine."

The Celtics, who had their past two seasons ended by the Heat, are 40-39 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. As it stands now, the Celtics would open with the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Heat won the season series against the Celtics, 3-1. It was the first time since 2005-06 that the Heat took a season series from Boston.

On Friday, the Celtics got off to a fast start, leading by as many as 13 points early in the second quarter. But the Heat got 41 points in the second quarter -- their highest-scoring period of the season -- to take a 58-50 halftime lead, and they cruised from there.

In addition to Green and Crawford, the Celtics also got double-figure scoring from Courtney Lee (18 points) and Brandon Bass (17 points and nine rebounds).

"We need Lee, and I tell him that every night," Rivers said. "We need him to play with consistency and power."

Added Lee: "If we would have had Pierce and (Garnett), that would have helped a lot. But even though we had two guys resting, we were still competing."

NOTES: The Heat rested two of their top forwards - Shane Batter, who has a sore left knee, and Udonis Haslem, who is batting an ankle injury. ... Before Friday's game, Spoelstra said of Wade's return to the lineup: "We want him to blow it out and get his wind, (but) he won't get his normal 34 or 36 minutes." Wade ended up playing 34 minutes. ... Rivers on Rondo and whether or not he'll travel with the team while he rehabilitates: "It doesn't matter to me. His job is to get healthy, not to travel with us and fall behind (on his rehab). Rajon is on a tight schedule to get back for next year, and that's where I want his focus." ... Rivers said he doesn't care who the Celtics play in the playoffs. "We don't have home-court advantage, and that is a concern," he said. "And other than Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, we don't have anyone who has been to the playoffs together." ... Spoelstra said he and the Heat scouts liked Celtics guard Avery Bradley when he was in college and getting ready for the NBA Draft. "He showed an ability to go 94 feet and turn the ball repeatedly. He is showing he can do that at the pro level. He was highly talented in the first 17 games of his freshman year (at Texas), and then he got hurt and perspectives changed." ... In Friday's second quarter, the Heat set the franchise record for 3-pointers in a season, breaking the previous mark of 678.
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