LeBron James had a game for the ages with 45 points and 15 rebounds as visiting Miami staved off elimination and tied the Eastern Conference finals at 3-3.
James hit 19 of 26 field-goal attempts and came close to his career playoff high of 49 points as the Heat forced a Game 7 on its home court Saturday by winning for only the second time in their last 17 games in Boston.
Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, who had put themselves in position to win the series by stunning the Heat in Miami in Tuesday’s Game 5.
Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 17 points in the final quarter but the game belonged to James, who displayed early on that he was up to the task of carrying the Heat with their season on the line.
James had 30 first-half points on 12-of-14 shooting to lead Miami to a 55-42 halftime lead. He missed a shot in the opening minute of the game and missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half, but drained 12 consecutive shots in between.
He scored 11 points in the third quarter as Miami maintained its 13-point halftime lead and then turned the game into a rout by keying a 15-3 run to start the final quarter. James’ layup with 7:15 to play boosted the Heat’s lead to 89-64 and were his final points of the contest.
Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass scored 12 points apiece for Boston.
James had 14 points in the opening quarter as the Heat jumped out to a 26-16 advantage. Miami’s largest first-half lead was 40-25 after James’ basket with 7:17 left in the half. Rondo had 19 first-half points for Boston.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The NBA record for points in a half in a playoff game is 39 by Eric “Sleepy” Floyd of the Golden State Warriors against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987. … Celtics forward Paul Pierce was just 4 of 18 from the field while scoring nine points. … While James was going 12-for-14 in the first half, his teammates were a combined 9-of-25. … Boston hit just 1 of 14 3-point shots. … Heat forward Chris Bosh scored seven points while playing 28 minutes in his second contest since returning from a lower abdominal strain. … Rondo committed seven turnovers.