Heat on the cusp of landing a Boston knockout

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“We executed well down the stretch defensively and offensively,” said Heat forward James Jones, who made another key play by fouling Allen and taking away a potential Boston fast break with the game tied at 86 with 19 seconds left in regulation. “I think it was just our presence of mind, our determination. We had mistakes. We made some mistakes.”

So did Boston.

The Celtics’ miscues were far more noticeable down the stretch.

Rondo missed a layup with 1:11 left in regulation, misfiring on an easy chance to give Boston what would have been a two-point lead. Paul Pierce had to take a wild shot at the fourth-quarter buzzer after Allen and Kevin Garnett collided on a play that could have won the game for the Celtics and instead left them all shaking their heads.

In overtime, Boston had as many turnovers _ four _ as points.

“When our back is against the wall, that’s when we show great resilience,” Garnett said. “We’ll see what we’re made of.”

If the Celtics lose, some sweeping changes may be on the way.

The core of the team likely will remain the same for at least one more season. But Rivers _ whose contract is expiring at season’s end _ has often said the lure of spending more time with family is difficult to ignore.

And a loss may spell the end of the Shaquille O’Neal era.

He eclipsed the 50,000-minute mark for his career last month and time has clearly taken its toll on his body, so there will surely be widespread speculation that whenever Boston’s season ends, the final buzzer for O’Neal’s career may beckon as well.

But in the Boston locker room late Monday, all that mattered was winning Game 5 and extending the series.

“We’ve got to get one win right now,” Pierce said. “That’s the focus. … It’s all on the line.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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