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It’s little things that add up to a Celtics’ win

By David J. Neal, McClatchy Newspapers –

MIAMI — To paraphrase Pulp Fiction, sometimes it’s the little things that make the big difference. In the playoffs, often, it’s the little plays that dictate the big feeling settling over your team and city at the end of the night.

Throughout the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s Game 5, the Heat and Celtics traded those moments of hustle and smarts. Who came up with more would determine who would land in Boston for Game 6 feeling better about their chances of playing into next week.

(PHOTO: The Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen (20) scores a basket around the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Boston claimed a 3-2 series lead with a 94-90 victory.)

New England is feeling good after the Celtics’ 94-90 win.

But at the start of the fourth, it was the Heat who made the first big little play. Heat guard Norris Cole’s stat line included zeros in field goals made, free throws taken and points early in the fourth quarter when Heat guard James Jones lost the ball with the Heat down 70-67. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo scooped up the ball and raced off toward a fast break layup.

But Cole chased down Rondo and did a little George Teague-on-Lamar Thomas thievery. A U-turn with the ball and Cole began a possession that ended with a Dwyane Wade rebound layup.

That ignited an 11-2 run that seemed to be rolling toward a 3-2 series lead, with the Heat up 78-72.

Then Rondo came up with his own reversal.

A Wade block on Brandon Bass should have launched the Heat upcourt on a fast break. But Rondo tapped the ball to Mickael Pietrus, and Pietrus drained a three-pointer to halve the Heat lead.

“I thought the play Rondo made for us was absolutely sensational to get MP the one three,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Rondo not only saved it, but he saved it toward one of our shooters. I thought that was maybe the play of the game.”

What hurt more? That three-pointer or the Pietrus three after the NBA’s all-time long-distance gun, Ray Allen, came up with a loose ball to keep a possession alive. As with the Rondo save after the Wade block, that could’ve been a five-point swing. Both plays together? A possible 10-point swing.

“The thing I loved, he didn’t hesitate on either one,” Rivers said. “Actually slowed down a little bit to gather himself and took two big 3s for us.”

Or how about Pietrus’ Chevy Chase flop after an Allen three-pointer gave the Celtics an 81-80 lead? As the shot went through from the right side, Chalmers got an elbow to Pietrus’ chest in an attempt to get position for the rebound. Pietrus propelled himself backward as if Chalmers elbow was an Escalade, a savvy sale that the officials bought.

Allen sank the technical free throw to put the Celtics up 82-80 with 2:54 left.

That recalled that Chalmers missed his chance to take advantage of Boston technical foul in the third quarter. It was just a point, but in playoff games, sometimes that single point is what lingers in the memory and keeps you up at night after a loss.

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