BOSTON — With LeBron James on the bench after fouling out for the first time since joining the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics were able to turn the Eastern Conference finals into a best-of-three with a 93-91 overtime victory Sunday night at the TD Garden.
The Celtics won a low-scoring overtime (4-2) and survived two Miami last-second attempts, one by Udonis Haslem at the end of regulation and a clean three-point attempt by Dwyane Wade that bounced around the rim before falling out at the final buzzer.
"No one said this was going to be easy. That's what we talked about in the locker room," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
"In the second half, we really got into the grind, into the fight. We had a couple of opportunities to win it. We'll gather ourselves, get some rest and get ready for Miami."
The Heat still holds the home-court advantage as the series shifts back to Miami for Game 5 on Tuesday night. Miami is 7-1 at AmericanAirlines Arena during the playoffs.
The Heat has now lost 15 of its past 16 games in Boston.
Spoelstra said the final play had a couple of different "layers" and Wade, who was being guarded by Marquis Daniels, was the primary option.
"We were going to look to see if we could get a cheap one," Spoelstra said. "If not, it was coming back to Dwyane."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers thought the shot was going in when it left Wade's hands.
"We told them watch the pump fake," Rivers said. "What Marquis did on the pump fake, he jumped out of the way to not draw the foul.
"I thought the defensive possession was really good. We were ready if he drove. Kevin (Garnett) was down low."
Rajon Rondo was asked how the Celtics maintained their composure after blowing an 18-point lead and then held on.
"Stops," he said. "We got some big stops in the end."
James fouled out with 1:51 remaining in the overtime and the Celtics leading 92-91.
James, who led the Heat with 29 points, picked up his fifth foul with 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
Wade scored 20 points but once again shot poorly and started slow. He finished 7-of-22 from the field and had eight points in the first half while shooting just 2-of-11.
Wade went to the line five times (making four) after not taking a free throw in Boston's Game 3 victory.
Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem had 12 points each, and Haslem grabbed 17 rebounds.
Paul Pierce finished with 23 points to lead Boston but fouled out for the second time in this series less than a minute into overtime.
Once again, the Celtics had much more balance with Garnett contributing 17 points and 14 rebounds, Rondo adding 15 points and 15 assists, and Ray Allen scoring 16 points.
The Heat had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Haslem wound up with an off-balance shot after a shaky pass from James.
"We tried to get LeBron on the run," Spoelstra said. "At that point, the play broke down. He had to put the ball on the floor and make a play. He had the right idea."
James hit a three-point shot to tie the score with 37 seconds remaining in regulation and then drew an offensive foul on Garnett with 21 seconds to play as Rondo was driving for what could have been the go-ahead basket.
In overtime, the Celtics led by one point when Shane Battier missed a three-point attempt. Rondo was fouled by Chalmers with 21.4 seconds left. Rondo missed the first three throw and made the second to make the score 93-91 before Wade's missed three.
The Heat scored the last seven points of the third quarter, five from Wade, to pull within 73-68, the closest it was since the first four minutes of the game. A 6-1 start to the third quarter was capped by a James layup that tied the score at 74. Rookie Norris Cole then nailed a jumper with 8:22 remaining to give the Heat its first lead of the game.
The Heat got back into the game by rediscovering a defense that limited Boston to 12 points in the quarter after allowing 162 points in the previous six quarters.
The Celtics led 61-47 at the half, the most points the Heat has allowed in any half during the post-season.
Miami started chipping away at the deficit, using a 7-0 run to cut it to nine points midway through the third quarter and then taking advantage of two key Celtics getting into foul trouble.
Rondo picked up his fourth foul with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter and was replaced by Keyon Dooling, the former Heat player who finished with three three-pointers and 10 points. Pierce exited the game 13 seconds later when he picked up his fourth.