Wow. Really? That's pretty much all you can say after what transpired at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night. The Heat had the game won. Or should have, considering that 11-point lead with seven minutes left.
Then Boston had it won, considering all it had to do was protect the ball in the final minute of regulation with Dwyane Wade on the prowl. And then, each team would have a chance to win it again in the final seconds before both decided that 48 minutes of basketball weren't enough.
So it went into overtime. And the veteran Celtics went to Rajon Rondo. And, as a result, Boston's balance beat out a heroic attempt from the Heat's biggest star and his feisty sidekicks. Rondo scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth period and overtime to lead five Boston starters in double figures on the way to a 112-106 victory against the Heat.
This one left the Heat short of breath, and shorter on answers.
"Disappointing," is how Udonis Haslem described it.
"A tough one to swallow," was essentially all Quentin Richardson could manage.
"It really gets no tougher than this," Wade summarized.
And that's especially the case after the Heat managed to lose an 11-point lead with seven minutes left.
D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade came with his game-face and his offensive swagger. He did everything he could to keep the Heat's hot streak against the East's top teams going. But his season-high 44 points weren't enough. He entered the game with a swollen eye and left with a bulging contribution in the box score. This was vintage Wade from his MVP candidacy last season. There were season-high numbers all around for Wade, who was 15 of 34 from the field, 3 of 7 on threes and 11 of 16 from the free-throw line. He also had seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in 43 minutes. This is why it's hard to question any shot he takes during a game. Too much of Wade is never a bad thing. This was Boston's roster just being a bit too much for the Heat to match up against and overcome. And Miami nearly did it anyway.
TURNING POINT: With the Heat ahead 89-78 with seven minutes left, the Celtics charged back with a 18-4 run to go ahead 96-93 with 1:35 left in regulation. Rasheed Wallace, who had been jawing all game with Wade, Haslem and Michael Beasley, made consecutive threes to erase the Heat's lead and set up the furious finish. Miami had its chances, still. But you just knew at that point that Boston would have too much firepower down the stretch.
LOSING EDGE: The Heat outrebounded Boston, dominated the offense glass and scored 26 points off 25 turnovers by the Celtics. But Boston's 54-36 edge in points in the paint simply haunted the Heat. That was especially the case when Rondo caught that lob at the rim (pictured above in the first photo) on an inbounds play with six-tenths of a second left in regulation to force overtime.
HEAD-SCRATCHER: It's a pick 'em Wednesday. It's just difficult to fathom why Quentin Richardson would even take a chance at protesting a call in the final two minutes of regulation in such a close game. But that's just what he did, and he paid for it. Richardson was hit with a tech with 1:35 left in the fourth, and Allen's free throw put Boston ahead 96-93. That free throw got Allen going, and he would hit a three moments later to push the lead to 99-95. Q just didn't have enough clout to get away with the jawing, because there were numerous times when Wade and Wallace said far worse and got away with it. Then, you have to wonder why Spoelstra didn't run a better defensive set that would have better guarded the rim to defend the inbounds lob that Rondo scored. One of the few plays that could have beaten the Heat with that little left time in that situation certainly did beat the Heat.
KEY CONTRIBUTIONS: With Beasley struggling with his shot, struggling with foul trouble and missing in action yet again down the stretch, it created an opening for Haslem to step up and produce. He was on fire in the fourth, when he scored 10 of his 19 points and was one of the few players who stepped into shots with confidence and authority when Wade was smothered. For whatever reason, Spoelstra didn't go back to Beasley, who was 2 of 8 for five points, five rebounds and five fouls in 25 minutes. But Haslem picked up the slack at the two-headed power forward position. UD was 7 of 13 from the field and had nine boards.
NEXT UP: Heat at Suns, 9 p.m. Friday - US Airways Center