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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

James finishes off  Boston

Heat star leads 16-0 rally in final minutes

ASSOCIATED PRESS
LeBron James scored the final 10 points of the game last night to lead the Heat past the Celtics. LeBron James scored the final 10 points of the game last night to lead the Heat past the Celtics.
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MIAMI -- For LeBron James, Game 5 last season against Boston was horrific.

A year later, Game 5 was humbling.

He and the Miami Heat are halfway to an NBA championship, having finally found a way to vanquish the Celtics.

Dwyane Wade scored 34 points, James added 33 -- including the game's last 10 in a spectacular closing flourish, part of Miami's 16-0 run over the final 4:15 -- and the Heat beat the Celtics 97-87 Wednesday night to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series in five games.

When it was over, James knelt on the court, oblivious to the photographers who quickly surrounded him in Miami's celebration.

"Everything went through my mind at that point," James said. "Finally getting over this hump against this team. Everything I went through this summer, with 'The Decision' and deciding to come down here to be a part of this team ... because I knew how important team is to this sport ... and all the backlash I got from it.

"I'd be up here for two hours if I tell you exactly everything that went through my head. Very emotional at that point, you know, and happy we got through it as a team."

That they did -- as a team.

James Jones hit a 3-pointer that kickstarted the final push, and Chris Bosh finished with 14 points -- none of them more important than the two coming when he blew past Kevin Garnett for a game-tying dunk with 2:57 left.

Wade carried Miami early, then James finished the job. The 10-0 run to close the game put some long-simmering Celtics demons to rest.

"I play with the two best players in the league," Bosh said. "And we do this together."

Ray Allen led Boston with 18 points. Garnett had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 12, and Delonte West added 10.

"Right now, I am really upset," Pierce said. "I wish I could have played better tonight. Unfortunately we came up on the short end of the stick. I tip my hat off to Miami. They really played great basketball."

Rajon Rondo finished with six points in 31 minutes for Boston, playing with what appeared to be a slimmer brace over the still-painful left elbow that he dislocated during Game 3.

"I know we gave a lot in Game 3," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And I don't know if we could ever get that effort back."

The Celtics got one measure of a victory: Ending months of speculation, Rivers said he will likely return to coach next season.

Next up for the Heat is the East finals against either Chicago or Atlanta, a series that may begin as early as Sunday. Chicago leads 3-2 with Game 6 Thursday night.

James put Miami up for good with a 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining, then added a game-sealing -- more aptly, a series-sealing -- 3 with 40.4 seconds left, then turned and posed for some fans who screamed in delight.

"They make you fight for everything," James said. "You can never take the foot off the gas. You can never take a second off against that team."

Boston was done, thoroughly worn down by a younger, more athletic opponent. The Celtics won the first three meetings between the clubs this season, then lost five of the final six.

"It was a series that all of us wanted, really since training camp," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Wade was knocked over into some courtside seats trying to snare the final rebound, but that only prolonged the moment. James knelt in prayer for several seconds, then ran over to wrap Wade in a long embrace as the fans screamed loudly.



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