76ers rally to avoid Heat sweep
PHILADELPHIA The sweep for the Heat was 95 seconds away. Miami held a six-point lead, had The Big Three on the court and a bevy of clutch plays behind them.
All the 76ers had was their unwavering belief.
When they told Doug Collins in the huddle late in the game, “We’re going back to Miami,” his reply was a simple one.
“I’ll be there with you,” said Collins, the Sixers coach.
Lou Williams proved the Sixers right, hitting the go-ahead three-pointer from the top of the arc over a lunging Dwyane Wade with 8.1 seconds left that lifted Philadelphia to an 86-82 win over the Heat on Sunday and avoided a sweep.
Sweet Lou, indeed!
His three came 28 seconds after Jrue Holiday stunned Wade with a three that sliced the deficit to one. It was all part of a game-ending 10-0 run that sent nearly 20,000 fans into a frenzy—and the Sixers on a surprise trip back to Florida.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.
“D-Wade gave me a little room and I was able to knock it down,” Williams said. “We’ve always been a team that fought, all the way until the end. I just wanted to give us an opportunity to win the basketball game.”
Wade’s tip-in with 1:35 left put the Heat up 82-76. Miami had followed the formula of its Game 1 and Game 3 wins. The Heat trailed by double-digits in the first quarter, only to storm into the lead on the backs of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and take over down the stretch.
The 76ers still may eventually lose this series.
Just not Sunday.
“If you have faith, you have hope. And if you have hope, you have life,” Collins said.
The Sixers kept the resolve they’ve had since they turned a 3-13 start into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers staggered down the stretch and won for only the second time since April 2.
Williams’ celebration was muted. He simply turned around and calmly walked back to a delirious huddle as if he expected to swish the winner all along.
“That shot right there
idn’t beat us,” Wade said.
What Wade meant was, take a closer look at the stat sheet to find the numbers that truly did in the Heat. They shot 39 percent; made 5 of 23 three-pointers; scored 16 bench points; and, again, trailed big early.
“We’ve proven all year long that we were able to close those types of games out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were not able to tonight.”
Williams and Evan Turner led the Sixers with 17 points each. Andre Iguodala added 16 points, and Elton Brand had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
James scored 31 points for the Heat and Wade had 22.
-- Celtics 101, Knicks 89—Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Rajon Rondo added 21 points and 12 assists, and the Boston Celtics swept their way into the Eastern Conference semifinals, holding on to beat the host New York Knicks.
Ray Allen and reserve Glen Davis each added 14 points for the Celtics, the first team into the second round after sweeping a series for the first time since a 3-0 victory over Indiana in 1992, the last series victory for their old Big Three before Larry Bird retired.
They had a 23-point lead cut to four in the fourth quarter, but pulled away again behind Garnett, who scored 20 after halftime.
Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and nine rebounds to lead the Knicks, while Amare Stoudemire—who has had back issues—finished with 19 points and 12 boards but shot only 5 of 20 from the field.
-- Hawks 88, Magic 85—Jamal Crawford scored 25 points and Joe Johnson hit four big free throws in the final 20 seconds after Atlanta struggled most of the night at the line, leading the Hawks to a victory over the Magic and a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
The Hawks will try to wrap up the best-of-seven series Tuesday night in Orlando.
Atlanta made only 12 of 20 free throws, but Johnson came through when the Magic were forced to foul. Orlando had a last chance to tie it up, but Al Horford knocked the ball away from Hedo Turkoglu as he tried to get loose for a three-pointer.
Turkoglu got the ball back with only enough time to force one up. It missed badly, and the Hawks celebrated a commanding lead in the series.