Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/31/12
MIAMI LeBron James played nearly 48 minutes Wednesday night against Boston, and finally arrived in the interview room at 12:50 a.m.Thursday morning. After being asked five questions, the Miami forward was ready to take some more. But none were asked. "You guys are tired, too, huh?" James cracked, and then headed out into the night. Before Jamesoutlasted all the reporters, he and his Heat teammatesoutlasted the Celtics 115-111 in overtime at AmericanAirlines Arena to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat survived an undermanned Boston team that had led by as many as 15 points late in the first half. They survived a phenomenal performance by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who had 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds while playing all 53 minutes. And James survived the possibility of blowing up Twitter for late-game misses that could have cost the Heat. He missed a layup with 20 seconds left and a 22-foot jumper just before the buzzer that could have won the game in regulation. Then he clanged a pair of free throws to start overtime. But James kept on battling. He soon had, in overtime, a nifty tip, a pair of assists andtwo foul shots made. So Twitter will not be dominated Thursday by LeBron misfortunes. "Whatever it took, whether it was offensive rebounds, trying to get a defensive stop or whatever the case may be, trying to be out there to help my teammates win," James said. "I was happy to be able to make a few plays." James finished with 34 points, typical for him lately. But he had to work to get them, shooting 7-of-20 from the field and 18-of-24 from the free-throw line. That was the most free throws James had attempted in any game since he also had 24 in the the playoffs for Cleveland on May 24, 2009 against Orlando. And dont think Celtics coach Doc Rivers didnt know exactly how many James had. "It is what it is. LeBron took 24 free throws tonight and our team took 29," said Rivers, also not happy with forward Paul Pierce fouling out with 47.7 seconds left in regulation after he had scored 21 points. Say what you want about the officiating, but James, who had 10 rebounds, kept on coming throughout the night. Forget about exhaustion. It was the same way for fellow Miami star Dwyane Wade. He had a disastrous first half, shooting 1-of-6 for two points. It looked as if it might be a repeat of Wades horrible Game 3 showing in an East semifinal against Indiana, perhaps minus a spat with coach Erik Spoelstra. But Wade also persevered. When the 3-hour, 5-minute marathon finallyended, he had 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 marksmanship from the line (yes, Doc, James and Wade combined to shoot six more free throws than your entire team). Wade made the clinching play of the game. With 59.7 seconds left in overtime, he drove in for a short jumper, got fouled and hit the free throw for an insurmountable 110-105 lead "It was grueling," Wade said about the Heat coming back from a 47-32 deficit late in the second quarter for the biggest playoff comeback in the teams 24-year history. "You know, exhausting." Wade was asked if there was any kind of celebration in the locker room. Yeah, right. "Everybody is getting treatment, getting therapy," Wade said of what it was like after the arduous affair. Of course, Wade played a mere 44 minutes. Three of his teammates James, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers logged more. But nobody could top the 53 played by Rondo. With the Celtics having a flagpole-thin bench, Rondo was called upon to go the distance in a game for the first time in his six-year NBA career. "I felt fine," Rondo said. "It was a mental grind for me individually and for us as a team. I wanted to play every minute. I thought I didnt hurt my team by me playing every minute." Rondo sure didnt do that. He became the first player in the storied history of the Celtics to score 40 or more points in a postseason game while handing out at least 10 assists. "Rondo was absolutely amazing," said James, using a description James has heard plenty himself during a postseason in which he is averaging 29.6 points. "The performance he put on tonight will go down in the record books." Rondo scored all 12 of Bostons overtime points. He might have had more had a foul been called on his drive to the basket with 1:35 left and the score tied 105-105. Replays showed Wade whacked Rondo in the face. Rondo said it was "obvious" he got fouled, and teammate Ray Allen said the Celtics "all thought he got hit." Instead, the Heat went the other way. They took the lead for good at 107-105 on a dunk by forward Udonis Haslem with 1:28 left in overtime. Haslem, who had all 13 of his points in the second half and in overtime and had 11 rebounds for the game, was one of several Heat heroes. Another was point guard Mario Chalmers, who had 14 of his 22 points in the first half, when Miami needed some scoring due to Wades shaky start. On a night in which eight players logged 43 or more minutes, perhaps the grittiest performance was turned in by Allen. The shooting guard played 43 minutes despite bone spurs in his right ankle that will require surgery after the season. He scored 13 points, including a 3-pointer with 34.3 seconds left in regulation that tied the score 99-99 and forced overtime. "It was one of the best games I played in," Battier said of the topsy-turvy affair, which included the Celtics battling back after falling behind 81-73 late in the third quarter. "Thats one of the best games Ive seen in person." It might not have been quite as dramatic had James not come up short in the waning seconds of regulation. He still hasnt hit a game-winning shot this season. "I missed the layup," said James, who was able to get his own rebound, allowing the Heat to hold for the last shot. "I felt I had a good look at it, but I was kind of off-balance. I was racing, trying to get the offensive rebound to give us the last possession. I had a great look at it at the end of regulation. It just didnt go down." But this game was about guys bouncing back even as their legs got heavy. Wade did so after his rough start. Even Rondo had a lull when he was held to four points and one assist in the third quarter, with the Heat thinking they had found a way to slow him after he had 22 points and seven assists in the first half. For James, he had four points, three rebounds and two assists in overtime. His second assist was the pass to Haslem for the dunk that put the Heat up for good. "It was a battle," James said. "We never felt like we won the game or lost the game until there were zeroes on the clock." A different clock read well past midnight when James finally emerged to talk about his game. If he does end up outlasting all his critics this season and wins his first championship, hell no doubt remember the night he and the Heat outlasted the Celtics. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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