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Celtics 112, Heat 108 (Beyond the Box Score)

BOSTON - This one could have been ugly. It could have been over by the end of the first quarter. Without Dwyane Wade, the Heat wasn't supposed to stand a chance.

Not that moral victories count in the standings - or the locker room for that matter. But pushing Boston to overtime without the leading scorer Dwyane Wade there to do the heavy lifting was an accomplishment for this Heat team. They can't survive like this.

But it was a confidence-boosting effort. If there's anything to take from Wednesday's 112-108 overtime loss at TD Banknorth Garden, that was it. The bigger concern, though, has to do with Wade's return. For now, the team is saying he's day-to-day, and his availability will depend on the success of his rigorous treatment marathon sessions.

Make no mistake. Wade's hip flexor turned out to be an injury that was far more serious than initially let on. Of course, the Heat doesn't want to advertise Wade's ailments. But his absence from Wednesday's game came as a bit of a shock, considering Wade said the previous day that he wanted to still play all 82. Having said that, he can't miss many more games if the Heat is to hold onto the fifth seed in the East. The last thing Miami can afford to do is take a dip in the standings at this point.

Player of the Game: Mario Chalmers - The rookie point guard grew up in a hurry Wednesday night. We mentioned the comparison between Chalmers and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo in this space yesterday. Chalmers went out and held his own in that highly competitive matchup. Chalmers took over down the stretch and made plenty of plays in the lane. He finished with 19 points and nine assists in 36 minutes. He only had one turnover. If the Heat can get this from Chalmers at least every other game, it's a plus.

Surprise, Surprise: James Jones - Was perfect from the field on four attempts and finished with nine points and two assists. He also provided a bit of defense with his length. He doesn't have to be perfect every night. But does have to have at least some sort of impact on the game, which hasn't been the case for much of the season.

Lit 'em Up: Paul Pierce - Scored 24 of his 36 points in the second half, including five points in the overtime period. Pierce had to carry a big part of the load with two-thirds of the Big 3 sidelined with injuries. Pierce was 3 of 5 from three-point range, and put on a jump-shooting clinic in the second half to keep Boston in it to win it. He also had 11 rebounds and five assists.

Stat of the Night: 54.9 - The Celtics shot 54.9 percent from the field and was 60 percent from three-point range.

That Says it All:"Pierce really made it tough. He was scoring on every one of our matchups." - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Paul Pierce's ability to take over the game down the stretch.

Next Up: Friday - Heat at New Jersey Nets, 7:30 IZOD Center. 




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