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NBA Eastern finals: James leads Heat over Celtics in Game 6

LeBron James simply willed himself and his Miami teammates past a Celtics squad that looked overwhelmed in Thursday night's Game 6. Game 7 will be Saturday night in Miami.

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Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives against Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass (30) during the third quarter in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, June 7, in Boston.

Elise Amendola/AP

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LeBron James, obviously motivated by his team’s shocking loss in Miami on Tuesday, answered the call by hitting for 45 points (30 in the first half) to propel the visiting Miami Heat to a 98-79 victory over the Boston Celtics last night.

In citing that humiliating home loss from earlier in the week, James summed up the Heat’s steely performance succinctly and directly.

“This was a gut check for us, and it’s good to see we were able to bounce back after that loss, after that Game 5 loss at home,” James said.

As to his own contributions, he added “In an environment like this, you want to have a big game … I wanted to be there for my teammates, no matter what was going on throughout the course of the game.”

For the eleventh time in his career, James scored more than 40 points in a playoff game, which is second among active NBA players. His first-half domination of the Celtics, where he hit 12 of Miami’s 21 field goals, helped to keep the Celtics behind by double-digits early – a cushion the Heat never relinquished.

Boston’s Paul Pierce, scoring a very un-Piercelike nine points, continues to fight through a knee injury and could never find his range last night – hitting only 4 of 18 shots from the field all evening, while going an abysmal 0-6 from three-point land.

In fact, the team as a whole only hit 7% (1-14) from behind the arc, which made their own basket seem smaller than the cup on the 18th green of Augusta National. Although Rajon Rondo turned in another admirable offensive performance for the Celtics – gaining another double-double with 21 points and 10 assists, he also committed seven turnovers. And overall, the Celtics’ 13 turnovers directly resulted in 16 Heat points. Miami also hit the offensive boards hard in earning 11 second-chance points.

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