Rajon Rondo overcame a dislocated left elbow to lead the Boston Celtics to a 97-81 win over Miami on Saturday, which cut the Heat’s lead to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference semi-final.
In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies fought back from 16 points down to beat Oklahoma City 101-93 in overtime and take a 2-1 lead over the Thunder in their semi-final series.
In Boston, the Celtics trailed by two points at halftime, but started the third quarter with a 16-4 run to seize control of the game.
Rondo scored his first basket of the game during the run, but then dislocated his left elbow after falling awkwardly in a tangle with Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
After being helped from the court with his arm immobilized, Rondo returned in the fourth quarter and finished the game with six points and 11 assists.
“My adrenaline was too high. I fed off the crowd energy,” Rondo told reporters, with the injured arm in a protective sleeve. “I thought I could try to change the game’s momentum by getting to the ball defensively. I only need two legs for that.”
“I’m glad we have a day off [yesterday]. I’ll get a lot of treatment and hopefully I’ll be ready to play,” Rondo said of his chances of making Game 4 today.
Rondo’s coach Doc Rivers was surprised to see the point guard return to the court after such a gruesome looking injury.
“I still haven’t seen it. I don’t want to see it,” Rivers told reporters of the incident. “It helped me that I didn’t see it, because I probably wouldn’t put him back in the game.”
Kevin Garnett was the Celtics scoring leader with 28 and 18 rebounds, while Paul Pierce added 27 points.
Wade led the Heat with 23 points, while LeBron James was limited to 15 points and Chris Bosh scored just one field goal among his six points.
“This is a championship team and they played at a championship level,” Wade said of Boston. “We [will] come back Monday and try to learn from our mistakes and not let them outplay us. For most of the game, they did a good job of outplaying us, and that can’t happen.”
In Memphis, Tennessee, the Grizzlies clamped down on the Thunder offense over the final 22 minutes, limiting them to 25 points while scoring 49 to claim the victory.
“We were fortunate to get this win, but that’s the playoffs,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “In order to go further, you always have [to] experience games where you have to do something miraculous in order to win the game. And I thought this was miraculous the way we fought back after being down 16.”
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 21 points and 21 rebounds, while Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo each scored 18 points.
Tony Allen was outstanding on defense, limiting Kevin Durant to 22 points and just four in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 23 points, including 13 in the third quarter but, like Durant, only scored four points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“I think we just got slow. We weren’t moving with any speed, no energy, and that’s what we have to do. We have to do a better job of doing that,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We were taking bad shots and that’s not a good combination when you’re trying to close out a game.”