BOSTON – A double-overtime victory against LeBron James and the defending NBA champions was difficult to celebrate for Paul Pierce and the Celtics.
News of Rajon Rondo’s season-ending knee injury spoiled the party.
Everyone was really happy for the win, Pierce said after Boston beat the Miami Heat 100-98 Sunday. It brought a dark cloud in this room when you heard the news.
When coach Doc Rivers told his players after the game, the joy of ending their six-game losing streak stopped, even if they had just outlasted the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, which came in with a four-game winning streak.
Now the Celtics must try to keep winning without their leader, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in Friday night’s 123-112 win, also in double overtime, in Atlanta.
They won Sunday after Pierce’s 22-foot jumper with 31 seconds left gave them a 99-98 lead.
But making the playoffs got harder as the Celtics try to hang on to the eighth and final postseason spot in the conference with a 2 1/2 -game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Obviously, the Rondo news is pretty tough. I knew it before the game, Rivers said. I just didn’t think it was any time to tell any of our guys.
Former Celtic Ray Allen scored 21 points in his first game back in Boston with Miami.
Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Pierce added 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics.
Rondo’s injury puts this team and the rest of the guys in a position to be ready to step up, Pierce said. Sunday’s win was a perfect example. We showed we are capable.
James had 34 points for the Heat.
As much as I’ve been a rival with Boston over the years, I never want to see anyone go down, James said. It’s terrible, not only for their team but for the league.
LAKERS 105, THUNDER 96: In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant had 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, and Steve Nash added seven of his 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes as Los Angeles won.
HORNETS 91, GRIZZLIES 83: In Memphis, Tenn., Ryan Anderson scored 22 points for New Orleans, connecting on seven three-pointers.
PISTONS 104, MAGIC 102: In Orlando, Fla., Brandon Knight had a career-high 31 points, including five three-pointers, and Greg Monroe scored 17 to lead Detroit.
KNICKS 106, HAWKS 104: In New York, Carmelo Anthony tied a franchise record with nine three-pointers, then converted a go-ahead, three-point play with 12.5 seconds left to cap a 42-point night and lead New York.
MAVERICKS 110, SUNS 95: In Dallas, Shawn Marion scored 18 points as the Mavericks beat Phoenix for the 10th straight time at home.