By Dennis J. Freeman
It was the Ray Allen show in Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Allen scored 27 of his game-high 32 points to lead the Celtics to a hard-fought 103-94 win Sunday at STAPLES Center, handing the Lakers their first home loss of the postseason.
But Allen had some help. Point guard Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double night, scoring 19 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing off 10 assists.
On a night where both teams had key players bogged down in foul trouble, the Celtics scrapped their way to a series-tying win that now gives them the home-court advantage. Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series, shift to Boston. Allen’s big night centered on shooting three-point daggers that left the Lakers in their wake. Allen set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers in a series game. Boston coach Doc Rivers said Allen’s performance was amazing to watch.
“When you draw up these plays and he makes them, you feel a lot smarter,” Rivers said. He’s a perfectionist. If you watched him yesterday and the last two days, he took a million shots. It’s no coincidence that the great shooters are great shooters; they work on it more. You look on TV early in the game, you see Kobe before everybody is out there shooting. Ray shows up three hours before every game, he’s out there shooting. There’s a reason they can shoot. He believes in it and we believe in it.”
Allen came out smoking hot in the first half, connecting on seven straight 3-point shots enroute to scoring his 27 points. While Allen cooled in the second half, thanks in part to a stepped up defensive presence by the Lakers, Rondo took over the game in the last two quarters, wrecking havoc on the defensive side of the ball and then creating sustained chaos with playmaking skills. His 12 rebounds were a game-high and was a pivotal reason why the Celtics outrebounded the Lakers for the game.
The measure of his abilities came into focus the last few minutes of the fourth quarter when he forced a couple of Lakers’ turnovers, grabbed some rebounds and hit a clutch jump shot.
“You know, Rondo’s offensive rebounds, some little things he did out there..that was really the difference in the second half, “Lakers coach Phil Jackson said at postgame interview. The first half was obviously Ray’s shooting that got them going. In the second half, Rondo had some key plays that change the course of the game.”