Celtics douse Heat
MIAMI — There was no diagramming of a special play in the final Boston huddle, no brilliant piece of strategy.
Paul Pierce demanded the ball.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers agreed.
And with Dwyane Wade watching helplessly from the bench, cramps rendering him unable to put any weight on his left leg, Pierce put Boston one win from a first-round sweep of the Heat.
Pierce dribbled the clock down to 2 seconds, got to his favorite spot just off the right side of the key and nailed a 21-footer at the buzzer last night, giving the Celtics a 100-98 victory in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.
Boston could advance to the second round by beating Miami tomorrow.
"It's still a series," Pierce insisted.
Might not be for long.
No team has ever rallied from an 0-3 deficit in a series, and Miami might have even bigger problems.
Wade hurt his left calf after missing a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, replays showing he landed on Celtics guard Ray Allen's foot. Wade — who changed jerseys during the game because he was sweating so much — crumpled to the court and was carried off by reserve center Jamaal Magloire and trainer Jay Sabol, then chugged a cup of Gatorade so he could play if the game went to overtime.
It didn't. Pierce saw to that, his final shot capping a 32-point effort.
"Get out of the way and get Paul the ball," Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said. "Pretty simple. He made the play."
For his part, Wade said he didn't think he landed on Allen's foot, insisting a cramp was his only problem. He took intravenous fluids after the game, but said he will play tomorrow.
"Great player made a great shot," Wade said. "I couldn't really see it too much. But I did see the ball go in the basket."
SPURS 94, MAVERICKS 90
SAN ANTONIO — Bloody nose and all, Manu Ginobili wasn't letting the Dallas Mavericks get ahead in this playoff series.
Playing with a bandage across his nose after getting popped by Dirk Nowitzki's elbow, Ginobili returned to the game and helped San Antonio hold on in a wild fourth quarter to beat Dallas.
Ginobili scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter with a broken nose.
"If Dirk or Jason Kidd get hurt, people like that who are ultimate competitors, they play unless they can't do it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "That's what (Manu) did."
The Spurs took a 2-1 lead by surviving the NBA's best road team, and Nowitzki torching the Spurs for 35 points after a shaky Game 2.
JAZZ 105, NUGGETS 93
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's reserves were able to do what the starters couldn't for the first 12 minutes — get inside and score on the Denver Nuggets.
Paul Millsap led a surge early in the second quarter that got Utah back into Game 3 after a disastrous start, then the Jazz took control of the game and their Western Conference playoff series with a victory last night.
"That's what we do, especially coming off the bench," said Millsap, who finished with career highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds. "When other guys aren't really feeling it at the time, we've got to come in and do a good job of trying to spark them and get them going."
Utah limited Denver's Carmelo Anthony to 25 points and flustered him into five fouls. He also had just four free-throw attempts after taking 19 while scoring a combined 74 points in the series' first two games.
Anthony and Chauncey Billups, who also scored 25 points, were the only Denver players to score in double figures.
"What I'm most disappointed at is that we failed to compete tonight as a team," Anthony said. "I think the Utah Jazz have done a good job making some adjustments defending me. When I get the ball I see two guys, three triple-teaming me. It's not just one guy on me."