81 - 97 Final
  for this game

Rondo rallies from injury, Celtics fend off Heat

May 8, 2011 - 5:07 AM Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Boston's chances looked bleak when Rajon Rondo dislocated his elbow midway through the third quarter, but the point guard somehow returned in the fourth and helped the Celtics grind out a 97-81 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Celtics were never seriously in contention down the stretch in the first two games in Miami, and they appeared to be headed to the fourth quarter on Saturday without their most dynamic playmaker.

But Rondo energized the TD Garden crowd with his return and the Celtics led by double digits the entire final frame to cut their series deficit to 2-1.

While Rondo provided the intangibles -- as well as six points and 11 assists -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce put up the numbers, with the former totaling 28 points and 18 rebounds and the latter adding 27 points and five assists.

Dwyane Wade had 23 points and seven helpers, but Miami's other two superstars -- LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- combined for only 21 points on 7- of-22 shooting. Bosh played with a pinched nerve in his neck.

"They played harder than us and played more efficiently than us," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They've earned that pedigree in the battles and the wars that they've been in the last four years, where we are trying to get to."

Whether Rondo plays in Game 4 on Monday remains to be seen after a gruesome injury following a tie-up with Wade. As the pair fell to the hardwood, Rondo tried bracing himself with his left arm and his elbow gave out and bent in the opposite direction.

"I'm not concerned," Rondo said of the injury. "I'm glad we have a day off to get treatment and hopefully I'll be ready to play."

At the time of the incident, the Celtics were on top, 60-50, after starting the third quarter on a 16-4 run. Garnett netted six points during the flurry, including the first two buckets to set the tone for the half.

"Tonight [Garnett] had a Hall-of-Fame performance. They rode him," said James.

Despite being without Rondo the rest of the quarter, the Celtics extended the margin to 72-61 with 12 minutes remaining.

Rondo was back on the court sporting a sleeve over his injured elbow to start the fourth, and even though he was dramatically favoring his left arm, he threw down a dunk for an 81-63 cushion 3 1/2 minutes in.

"I didn't have to do much scoring, just directing," Rondo said. "I just tried to be an energy boost."

The Heat, done in by their 35 percent shooting effort in the second half, only got as close as 12 from there.

The Celtics jumped in front early on, leading by as many as 11 in the first quarter behind Pierce's 12 points.

They held a 27-21 advantage after 12 minutes and continued to play front- runner until the Heat rattled off 10 straight points midway through the second.

Miami was on top, 40-34, following a James bucket with 4:19 remaining in the half, and the visitors went into the break leading, 46-44.

Game Notes

James' 15 points were his fewest this postseason...Joel Anthony, who totaled 25 points in Miami's first seven playoff games, chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds in the loss...Mario Chalmers added 17 points for the Heat, who shot 5-of-23 (22 percent) from three-point range after shooting 46 percent from long distance in the first two games...Shaquille O'Neal made his first playoff appearance with the Celtics and scored two points in 8 1/2 minutes. He had been sidelined with Achilles and calf injuries...Ray Allen contributed 15 points for Boston. which made half of its 18 three-point attempts...Both teams made 14 free throws...The Celtics had 18 fastbreak points to Miami's five.