Celtics beat Heat in OT, level East finals at 2-2

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BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists, and scored the final three points of the Boston Celtics’ 93-91 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday to even the Eastern Conference finals at two games each.

Miami Heat forward Shane Battier (31) shoots past Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass (30) during the first half of Game 4 in their NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoffs series in Boston, Sunday. At left are Celtics forward Paul Pierce and Heat guard Dwyane Wade. AP PHOTO/CHARLES KRUPA

Getting a huge break when LeBron James fouled out for the first time since joining the Heat, the Celtics recovered after blowing an 18-point lead in regulation to move two games away from a third trip to the NBA finals in five years.

Kevin Garnett added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, while Paul Pierce scored 23 points before fouling out. Ray Allen finished with 16 points.

“Stops,” Rondo said when asked what was the difference in the tight game. “I think we executed offensively, came up with some lucky plays and we got stops at the end.”

James had 29 points and Dwyane Wade scored 20 after another dismal start for the Heat, who host Game 5 on Tuesday.

In a game that started as a Celtics blowout and turned into a foul- and tension-filled fourth quarter, followed by the second overtime in this series, the Celtics held on when Wade missed a potential winning 3-pointer on the last possession.

“We knew they were going to Wade. I wanted to check him,” Rondo said. “They set a great pick. … We’re lucky we got a stop.”

Mickael Pietrus drew James’ sixth foul and grabbed two huge offensive rebounds that extended consecutive possessions for the Celtics, who lost Game 4 in overtime in a second-round series against the Heat last year with a chance to tie the series.

This time, they overcame their second-half stall on the offensive end to give themselves by limiting the Heat to just one basket in overtime, by Udonis Haslem.

Rondo’s layup gave the Celtics a 92-91 lead with 2:34 left, and neither team scored again until he made a free throw with 21 seconds to play. Wade, already finding it tough to locate any room with Chris Bosh and then having to do it James also on the sideline, saw his potential winning attempt bounce off the rim as time expired.

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