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BASKETBALL

Celtics cool off Heat with fourth-quarter burst

BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Celtics overcame the absence of leading scorer Paul Pierce to pull away from the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter for a 107-102 victory on Wednesday.

Pierce missed the game with a strained left foot he suffered Monday but the Celtics were able to call on Rajon Rondo's 22 points and 14 assists while Eddie House added 16 off the bench as the home side added 33 in the final quarter.

House scored five successive points late in the game after the Heat had pulled within two and Boston (31-16) made 12 free throws in the last two minutes to seal the contest.

"I thought we were able to get stops when we had to," Kevin Garnett told reporters after finishing with 14 points.

"Rajon took over in the fourth quarter, Eddie House made some shots and we shared the ball and played well."

Dwyane Wade had 30 points and 13 assists but gave up a costly turnover with 36 seconds remaining with Miami down by three.

The Heat (24-25) spent a majority of the game chasing the Celtics and although they made it a close contest in the closing stages they were unable to avoid a third consecutive defeat.

Rafer Alston and Udonis Haslem had 15 points each for the Heat, who trailed by two at the half but tied the game going into the fourth.

Boston scored the first five points of the fourth and built a quick 10-point lead then had to absorb Miami's rally.

The Celtics scored 100 points for the first time in 10 games, Ray Allen finishing with a team-high 23 points and Garnett adding a season-high nine assists.

"There are times where you're mad at Kevin for being a ball mover," said Boston coach Doc Rivers.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)