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Eddie Money Steps Up

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Over the fourth quarter and overtime of last night's 112-108 win over the Miami Heat, the Celtics got exactly two made baskets from outside the paint by people not named Paul Pierce.  Credit Eddie House. 

With a suit-clad Ray Allen restricted to watching with a strained elbow, the diminutive guard took over the lead role of stretching the floor for the rest of the green gang, and he did a fine job of it.

On a night that no doubt belonged to Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, House logged 28 minutes, his second-highest total of the season and his high for games in which Rajon Rondo participated.  His first late-game bucket came with the Celtics trailing by three points and less than four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.  When the Heat brought extra defenders to the paint to fend off a Pierce drive from the right side, the captain saw white Miami shirts slough off number 50 out on the left wing and whipped the ball across the floor.  House pulled the trigger on his hallmark quick release rainbow, and a split-second later, the ball went through the twine.

Not only did the shot tie the game, but it seemed to do just enough to deter Erik Spoelstra from bringing extra help Pierce's way from there on out.  After House's three, the Heat didn't so much as double-team the Truth until the final play of regulation.  In the meantime, after a scoreless possession followed the trey, Pierce scored seven points on three shots over the Celtics' next three trips down the floor.  All three came in single coverage, and ESPN's Jon Barry and Mark Jackson observed that the Heat wanted no part of leaving House alone.

Perhaps that was because the game-tying three was far from the beginning of the trouble caused by the man Tommy Heinsohn once referred to as Eddie Mansion.  House finished the first-quarter with a perfectly executed buzzer-beater, taking a pass from Rajon Rondo, ball-faking and dribbling once before banging a jumper from just inside the line.  He followed that with another quick-trigger jumper from the top of the key before draining a right-corner three after Stephon Marbury penetrated and dished to him.

In the final minute of the third quarter, Eddie even left character for a moment to add some points from in close.  As he saw Mikki Moore secure a rebound off a missed MIami jumper, House released down the floor, sprinting toward the bucket before the Heat could adjust in transition.  Rondo took an outlet from Moore and hit House in stride with a length-of-the-floor pass for a righty lay-in. 

Though Eddie scored only those three fourth-quarter points, his presence made no small difference in keeping the floor open not only for Pierce but for Rondo and Kendrick Perkins in the lane as well. 

He wasn't done either.  Eddie got loose again on the Celtics' first possession of overtime and drained a three from the right wing.  The shot sparked an 8-0 Celts run to start the extra period and put the green ahead to stay.  Moments later, House even found Perk with a sweet pass after he used the upfake-one-dribble move again to get himself space inside the three-point line.  This resulted in two foul shots for Perk.

Sure, Eddie missed a jumper that could have extended the lead from three to five in the final minute of overtime, and he also missed his second free throw after he had pushed the lead to four with 12 seconds to play.  But for the night, he scored 16 points on a sharp 6-for-10 shooting that included a 3-for-4 showing from deep. 

Stretch the floor, draw the defense's attention, tie the game, grab the lead.  Eddie House did it all with his omnipresent smile as the Celtics snapped a two-game mini-losing streak.