LOS ANGELES – At some point during the second quarter in Game 2 of the NBA finals, Ray Allen slipped into that shooting zone only visited by real-life superstars and movie characters.
With his fundamentally flawless jumper snapping crisply from his wrists, the Boston guard hit 3-pointers in dizzying bunches against the helpless Los Angeles Lakers. He made seven in the first half and finished with a finals-record eight 3’s in the Celtics’ 103-94 victory Sunday night.
Allen’s wry smile after he hit three straight 3-pointers in a two-minute span evoked memories of Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders during his 35-point half against Portland in the 1992 finals. Even Jesus Shuttlesworth – you know, the sharpshooting kid Allen played in “He Got Game” – would have been proud.
“There’s no better place, moment, time … to win a game, and to win in a great fashion,” Allen said. “I don’t know what record it is that people are telling me that I got, but it’s great to have, great to be able to look back on it and say I did that. This is definitely our time.”
All that elegant brilliance might have been wasted without Rajon Rondo, whose triple-double contained much of the dirty work necessary to even the finals.
While Allen scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half with the record-setting 3-point shooting display, Rondo completed his fifth playoff triple-double down the stretch. Taking charge after Allen cooled down, the point guard racked up 19 points – including the quick-reflex basket that put Boston ahead for good – along with 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
“The best part about getting a triple-double is getting a win,” Rondo said. “That’s pretty much it. It would be pointless to get a triple-double and lose the game.”
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Boston.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points while battling more foul trouble for the Lakers, who couldn’t catch up to Boston’s dynamic guards in Los Angeles’ first home playoff loss since last season’s Western Conference finals. Pau Gasol had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum added 21 points and six rebounds.
“It’s a series,” Bryant yawned. “You’re trying to stay even-keel. You don’t get too high, don’t get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business.”
With his eighth 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, Allen broke the record for a full finals game he shared with Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen. – and though he didn’t hit another under tight defense, Rondo took charge.
Rondo’s layup put the Celtics ahead for good with 3:21 to play. Rondo scooted in to collect a shot blocked by Gasol but scored before Gasol could react.