The Boston Celtics have been living dangerously over the past couple of weeks, falling down by double figures to the Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks before mounting hellacious comebacks to keep their winning streak alive. They made a go of it again on Wednesday, trailing the Miami Heat by as many as 18 points, and by 16 entering the fourth quarter, before making their run late.
Too late, as it turned out, and too little, thanks in large part to Dion Waiters.
The Heat shooting guard scored eight points in the final three minutes, including back-to-back 3-pointers — one on a generous bounce off the top of the backboard, another dead on from the left corner — to stem the tide after the Celtics drew within one point:
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 23, 2017
Waiters also delivered an exclamation point dunk that gave Miami a seven-point edge with 35 seconds left …
— NBA (@NBA) November 23, 2017
… and this time, Kyrie Irving and the Celtics just didn’t have enough late-game magic in them to go the distance, as the Heat scored a 104-98 victory that snapped Boston’s NBA-season-best winning streak at 16.
Waiters finished with 26 points on 11-for-24 shooting to go with six assists and two rebounds in a team-high 36 minutes. His backcourt partner, Goran Dragic, led the way with 27 points on 8-for-17 shooting, 20 of which came before halftime, to go with five rebounds and four assists for the Heat, who bounced back from an embarrassing 25-point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday to improve to 8-9 on the season.
Irving scored 12 of his 23 points in a final frame that saw the Celtics jolt to life to score 35 points to try to once again eke out a win after being outplayed in the early going. But despite a 13-0 run midway through the fourth that got them within a single point with 3:14 to go, the Celtics couldn’t get over the hump to overcome a frustrating offensive effort in which they shot just 41.7 percent from the floor as a team, or an uncharacteristically iffy defensive performance in which they allowed the Heat to shoot 49.4 percent from the floor, with Dragic and the inimitable Waiters leading the way.
With the loss, their first in more than a month, the Celtics put a period at the end of the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history. They also fall to 16-3, four games up on the Detroit Pistons for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
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