New York: Goran Dragic scored a game-high 25 points, Bam Adebayo had 15 of his 21 during a furious third-quarter comeback, and the Miami Heat rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 106-101 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night near Orlando.
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Adebayo, the hero of Game 1 with his critical block in overtime, added 10 rebounds as the Heat improved to 2-0 in the best-of-seven series and 10-1 in the playoffs. Six Miami players scored in double figures, including Duncan Robinson, who had 18 points on six 3-pointers.
“We just never gave up,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Kemba Walker emerged from a slump and put up 23 points to lead the Celtics, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 21 apiece.
Game 3 will take place Saturday night. After Thursday’s game, multiple reporters noted screaming in the Celtics locker room, with team leader Marcus Smart said to be among the most vocal.
Smart later declined to speak with media.
“Guys are emotional after a hard game, hard loss,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
Walker dismissed the ruckus as “nothing.”
The Heat outscored the Celtics 37-17 in the third quarter to take an 84-77 lead into the final period. Boston roared back with a 10-2 run in the middle of the fourth, knotting the score at 89 on a Brown basket with 5:37 remaining.
The Celtics maintained momentum and led 94-89 after a 3-pointer by Walker with 4:25 to go. But the Heat countered with a 13-1 run to seize control, Jae Crowder’s layup with 1:26 on the clock giving Miami a 102-95 edge.
“Just a lot of mistakes,” Walker said of the blown leads. “We make too many minor mistakes that really hurt us. We’ve got to clean that up in order to beat these guys.”
Brown got Boston within 104-101 on a 3-pointer with 49.4 seconds remaining, but he couldn’t knot the score from deep with 15.1 ticks to go as Miami held on.
Down by 13 to begin the third, the Heat rode a 15-2 spurt to a 72-71 lead with 4:17 to go. Adebayo had 11 points during the run, giving Miami its first lead since 1:13 of the opening quarter. The Heat ended the period on a 10-1 stretch to up their lead to seven through three.
“Bam really set the tone in that second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That just took some of the pressure off our offense. Bam was really assertive in the pick-and-roll, and that kind of loosened up some things for us.”
The Celtics led 31-28 after a tightly contested first quarter. Boston blew the game open in the second, grabbing its first double-digit advantage, 43-33, on back-to-back 3-pointers by Brad Wanamaker with 8:37 left. The margin reached 17 with 3:19 to go, but Miami cut its deficit to 60-47 at the break.