Bittersweet wins stink almost as bad as a losing the game – because they usually involve a loss of another kind.
But a win is a win, and there was never a more timely victory this season for the Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce hit a 20 foot jumper to give the Celtics the lead with 30 seconds left, then the Celtics clamped down defensively to take a 100-98 double overtime thriller at TD Garden Sunday afternoon.
Boston found out during the game that All Star point guard Rajon Rondo had suffered a torn right ACL and may be finished for the season.
Paul Pierce picked up the slack.
Still struggling from the field, Pierce nevertheless managed a triple-double, scoring 17 points on 6 of 16 shooting and crashed the boards for 13 rebounds and dished out 10 helpers and center Kevin Garnett turned in a strong 24 point 11 board effort as the Celtics snapped a demoralizing six game losing streak.
Jeff Green contributed 11 points off the bench and Jason Terry provided a huge spark, hitting a driving layup to cut Miami’s lead to one after Lebron James had completed a 3 point play to give the Heat a three point edge. A Dwayne Wade miss of a short jumper set up Pierce’s heroics on the other end, and misses by James and Shane Battier doomed the Heat.
Miami was led by James’ 34 point, 16 rebound performance. Chris Bosh matched LeBron’s game high 16 boards and backed it up with 16 points while Dwayne Wade turned in a 17 point 6 Assist afternoon. Ray Allen made his first appearance in Boston since leaving for Miami in free agency last summer and scored 21 points and dragged down 5 rebounds.
After Pierce made one of two free throws to give Boston a two point lead with 5 seconds left in the second overtime, Miami called a time out and set up a their offense, but an errant 3 point attempt by Battier sent Miami to just their first loss in five games – not the start they wanted to begin a 4 game road trip.
Rondo was listed as a game time decision for a hyper extended right knee, but when he couldn’t go after warming up before the game he was sent to the hospital where an MRI revealed the torn ACL in the knee. He will have surgery on the knee this week and will likely miss the rest of the season.
The torn ACL went undetected as initial examinations indicated that the knee was hyper extended, but after being examined by team physicians after warmups prior to today’s game, Rondo was sent to the Hospital for the precautionary MRI.
The injury could be considered a blow to the Celtics’ fortunes this season as Rondo had been immersed in a fabulous first half of the season, carrying the Celtics with his energy…and with Pierce mired in his shooting funk and the team searching for an identity, they could now have found one: that identity of a team rallying around their fallen star.
Rondo returned from the hospital in time to catch the second overtime period, and his presence inspired both the team and the capacity crowd.
At least life without Rondo begins in the midst of a four game home stand and stretch that sees the 21-23 Celtics play six of their next seven at TD Garden, starting Wednesday with the Sacramento Kings coming to town, followed by visits from Orlando on Friday and the Clippers on Sunday.
What the Celtics do to fill Rondo’s shoes remains to seen, but for now Boston will have to settle for rallying around their fallen floor leader.
At least they’ve finally found an identity.