- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

BOSTON (AP) - Fans who hoped to see Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were disappointed. Paul Pierce sent them home happy.

The only one of the four All-Stars healthy enough to play scored 36 points, including a 3-pointer in overtime Wednesday night that helped carry the Boston Celtics to a 112-108 win over the Miami Heat and the Atlantic Division title.

A title that doesn’t mean very much for a team that won its 17th NBA championship last year.

“It really doesn’t mean anything to the Boston Celtics,” Pierce said. “They don’t put that banner up. Maybe in other arenas they put that banner up, but here it really doesn’t mean a thing.”

Wade was a huge part of Miami’s 2005-2006 championship team and the Heat, at 36-31, are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. He missed his first game of the season with a right hip flexor. The team did not say how much time he’d miss but did not rule him out of Friday night’s game at New Jersey.

Rookie Mario Chalmers handled Wade’s role and helped the Heat make it to overtime.

“I just try to do things he would do, keep our team going” Chalmers said. “I tried my best to get everybody involved.

Chalmers had 19 points and 9 assists and Michael Beasley came off the bench to score 21 points. But the Heat missed Wade and his NBA-best 29.9-point scoring average.

“It almost came down to that we had Paul and they didn’t have Wade,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

Pierce scored 12 points in the first quarter, hit 14-of-23 shots and nearly won it in regulation with a jumper that missed at the buzzer.

“It’s unbelievable when he is hitting shots, crazy shots,” Boston’s Kendrick Perkins said. “He and (Rajon) Rondo carried us tonight.”

Rondo had 27 points and 10 assists and Eddie House scored 16 points. House started the overtime scoring with a 3-pointer that gave Boston a 103-100 lead, and Pierce followed with another for a 106-100 advantage.

“He was scoring on every one of our matchups,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Garnett missed his 13th straight game with a strained right knee and Allen missed his first after hyperextending his elbow Tuesday night in a loss at Chicago.

Leon Powe, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine also are sidelined for the Celtics.

“We know that we are injured,” Pierce said after Boston’s second win in six games, “but just to get back on the winning mindframe is big for us.”

Suns 126, 76ers 116

At Phoenix, Jason Richardson scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, and Shaquille O’Neal had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the Suns’ third straight victory.

Steve Nash added 24 points and 10 assists to help Phoenix move within four games of idle Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Andre Miller had 23 points and eight assists for Philadelphia.

Rockets 106, Pistons 101, 2 OT

At Houston, Yao Ming scored 31 points and Ron Artest added 26 to lead the Rockets past undermanned Detroit.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points for the Pistons, who played without Richard Hamilton (groin), Allen Iverson (back) and Rasheed Wallace (calf strain).

Hornets 94, Timberwolves 93

At New Orleans, Chris Paul capped a 26-point, 10-assist, five-steal performance for the Hornets by setting up David West’s dunk with 12.6 seconds left.

Kevin Love had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota.

Bulls 103, Thunder 96

At Oklahoma City, Derrick Rose scored 20 of his 25 points and went 10-for-10 in the second half as Chicago snapped a seven-game road losing streak.

Russell Westbrook had 15 points for the Thunder..

Magic 106, Bucks 80

At Milwaukee, Dwight Howard narrowly missed a triple-double with 28 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and Hedo Turkoglu added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando.

Charlie Villanueva had 17 points for the Bucks.

Nets 115, Knicks 89

At New York, Vince Carter scored 29 points, Brook Lopez had 23 and New Jersey salvaged the finale of a five-game trip.

The Nets lost the first four games of the trip out West, losing All-Star point guard Devin Harris to a sprained left shoulder along the way.

Al Harrington scored 21 points for New York.

Trail Blazers 95, Pacers 85

At Indianapolis, Brandon Roy scored 20 points, and Portland center Greg Oden won his first pro game in his hometown.

Oden, the top pick in the 2007 draft, returned to Portland’s lineup after missing more than a month because of a bone chip in his left knee. He finished with four points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

Danny Granger had 35 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana.

Bobcats 104, Kings 88

At Charlotte, N.C., Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 12 rebounds and the Bobcats kept the Kings winless against the East.

The Kings, 0-28 against the East, played without top scorer Kevin Martin (illness), Andres Nocioni (quadriceps) and then lost Rashad McCants (ankle) after he scored 30 points.

Nuggets 111, Grizzlies 109

At Memphis, Tenn., Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 33.2 remaining, as Denver overcame a 17-point second-half deficit.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 30 points.

Clippers 123, Wizards 108

At Los Angeles, Eric Gordon scored 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter, and Baron Davis tied a career high with 20 assists for the Clippers.

Antawn Jamison led Washington with 24 points.

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